HE is the boss of a multi-billion-pound multinational and he is praising street protesters.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of energy giant ScottishPower, cannot speak highly enough of the young people who have taken to the streets to demand urgent action on climate change.

“It is brilliant to see, so encouraging,” he says from his new glass and steel Clydeside HQ. “I think it is phenomenally positive that so many youngsters are standing up and saying ‘you know, this is MY future. And I should have a say’.”

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These, after all, are not just protesters. They are Mr Anderson’s future customers, consumers ready to make big changes in how they live, in how they power their lives. The power executive is underlining a new alliance forming in the face of the climate emergency, between campaigners and capital. There is money to be made in saving the planet, lots of it.

Mr Anderson has some simple messages: there is change coming to Scotland and the UK. That change is positive and it is going to start in Glasgow.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set a target for the entire country to get to “net zero carbon” – when we stop contributing to man-made global warming – by 2045, ahead of the rest of the UK. For some, including many of those protesting, that is too late. Glasgow, with its engineering prowess, should not wait so long. But why should Glasgow be first?

“For Scotland to get to net zero carbon by 2045, Glasgow needs to take the lead. Glasgow is the biggest city and it is

ScottishPower’s home town,” Mr Anderson explains. “If we can get Glasgow to do this first, with all the challenges of a major city with its flats, then it shows the way for everybody else in Scotland and across the UK.”

Mr Anderson jokes about beating Edinburgh, which has set a zero carbon date of 2037, but he is not being drawn on timetables. Nor can he give an exact figure for how much this is all going to cost. Billions? Probably, he acknowledges.

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So what, exactly, does zero net carbon mean? Well, Mr Anderson is talking about two big ticket issues: how we power our vehicles and how we heat our homes, our schools and our hospitals. Think electric vehicle chargers. Think an end to your gas boiler.

Until now the dramatic change in electricity generation – ScottishPower currently only uses renewable sources – has not really made much on a different to consumers. The next stage will.

Mr Anderson says: “If you could not stand at the top of Buchanan Street and see Whitelee windfarm you would not have a clue about renewables.

“You go home at night you hit the light switch, you put the TV on and you charge the phone and it has makes no difference to your life .

“The four big contributors to climate damage are electricity, transport, heat and food. Most countries have started with electricity because it does not have an immediate hit on people’s lives.

“When you look at heating and transport you are starting to ask people to change their behaviour. That was why it was so important for Glasgow to introduce low emissions zones by 2022.”

Change is not far away. Consumers, businesses will have to think very carefully before making big purchases. A fleet manager? Do you really want to invest in dirty vehicles? Putting in new heating? Are you sure you want gas? Because prices are changing: electricity is going to be cheaper.

Mr Anderson continues: “We think its so important we start this conversation now. For the first few years some of this stuff will almost be of a PR nature.

“It is about sending that message: life is changing, the world is changing and as a city we want to be at the forefront of that change and we want to be encouraging everybody to think about how do we plan my personal transition, by business transition. The future is electric.”

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Who will pay for this change? All of us, through our power bills, and through changing cars and boilers. In the long run, electric transport and heaters will be cheaper. But will everyone share in this new clean power? Or will poorer people be left with old cars, old boilers, using expensive old fuels? Mr Anderson stresses he wants to make sure the infrastructure, the charging points, are not just in rich neighbourhoods. And his council partners – and no doubt the campaigners he praises – will make sure he sticks with that.