THEY are the men and women who will fight the front-line war on global heating. But they might not know it.

The burden for cutting greenhouse gas is increasingly falling on civil servants, corporate pen-pushers and council officers who make the day-to-day decisions that affect our climate.

Scottish local and national authorities are looking at thousands of incremental cuts and changes to the way they do business as they aim for zero-net carbon within a generation.

And that means they need officials making decisions to be “carbon literate”. After all, they can be making decisions on everything from where to source food for school and hospital meals to how to power vehicles or buildings.

Glasgow City Council earlier this year formally announced a climate emergency and set up a working group to look at how it can get to zero-net carbon, by as early as 2030.

As detailed in this newspaper, the city is already planning to scrap fossil fuel cars and trucks within a decade and is lobbying for tax changes to unlock district heating systems.

There remains resistance, however, in the corridors of power across what many call the “council family”, the institutions which deliver so many public services.

There are very few climate deniers left in Scotland, such is the weight of scientific evidence. However, there are mid-level decision makers who are not convinced there is much they can - or should - do to save the planet.

READ MORE: 'No-one is too small to make a difference on climate crisis'

So one of the recommendations from the working group is to school leaders in the imminent threat and what they can do to mitigate against it.

They said: “The climate emergency demands commitment and comprehension from all levels of our organisations.

“The working group wishes to see leadership from senior officials of our public bodies, as well as elected members.

“Climate issues are everyone’s business and they need to be genuinely and tangibly mainstreamed through organisational life.

“We therefore recommend that Community Planning partners work together to ensure that all senior officers in the city’s agencies have undertaken carbon literacy training and become climate leaders themselves, with further plans brought forward to leaven these issues throughout the thinking of all.”

The working group has made more than 60 recommendations aside from its suggestion of creating carbon literate leaders.

READ MORE: Anna Richardson on why Glasgow must lead on the climate crisis

It is up to the ruling SNP administration, which made the climate emergency declaration, to decide which of ideas to make real.

However, the working group, chaired by Scottish Greens councillor Martha Wardrop also expects to see regular transparency about progress.

The report said: “The working group wants to see momentum gather and we expect to see progress being made.

“Work needs to start on our recommendations right now. We recommend that the Council reports back to the people of Glasgow annually on what it has done to address the climate emergency and what it is planning to do.

“This should accompany an ongoing conversation with all the city’s diverse communities about the climate crisis and the actions we all should be taking to build a more resilient city which helps to lead a global movement for a safer planet.”


Carbon, per capita

Globally, local authorities have been playing a key role in reducing carbon even where national governments - such as the United States - have stalled.

Writing in The Herald this week, Ms Wardrop said: “Strong leadership has to be developed amongst local councillors to deliver the climate change action that our young people are asking for.

“It is vital to remember that no-one is too small to make a difference.”

READ MORE: How green is your council area? We reveal the reality of Scotland's carbon footprint … and the results might surprise you

Many climate experts stressed that localism - a passion of politicians such as Ms Wardrop - will play a key role in reducing emissions. Simple changes such as buying or growing more local food can make substantial differences at a planet level if enough communities change.

Glasgow currently has slightly below average Scottish per-capita output of carbon, under five tonnes per person per year as of 2017. Other Scottish cities have similar figures.