MOST of us know we are leaving an environmental mess for our children.

But not so many of us realise we are also going to ask them to pay the bill to clear it up.

National, local and regional governments are facing hefty up-front costs as they strip carbon out of some of their economies.

Some are turning to the debt market - issuing special “climate bonds” - to raise the capital they need to carry out green reforms.

Glasgow council has been urged to considering doing so by a working group of influential councillors and advisers.

The city has ambitious plans for the city to become the first in the UK to get to zero-net carbon, when it takes out as much of the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as it puts in.

The authority has concrete proposals to replace its entire fleet of 2000 cars, bin lorries and gritters with electric and hydrogen vehicles. It has already secured some Scottish Government funding to convert some of its snow-clearers in to dual-fuel hydrogen power. Its aim? N t just to make its own services green but to seed a market so commercial operators can change too. In the long run electric vehicles have lower running costs, experts believe. But they are more expensive to buy than their diesel equivalents. At least for now.

Such initiatives will take municipal leadership. And municipal cash.

The council has set up a working group to trash out how it gets to zero net carbon. Its recommendations are still under consideration. One is for climate bonds. That means the up-front costs of things like new vehicles could be spread out over years.

In its report, the group said it “heard of action by other cities to develop municipal climate bonds in order to fund low carbon developments.

“We commend this model and think the city should explore its potential application to Glasgow.

“We recommend that the city’s partners work together to develop business cases for low carbon energy and transport investments through examination of alternative financing models, including the use of municipal climate bonds.”

The city council’s buildings, vehicles and services only account for around 5% of CO2 emissions. So its efforts to reduce carbon output are often designed as a laboratory of good practice.

This includes efforts to improve its own premises. Here too there are capital costs that can lead to revenue savings. And that might justify borrowing, not necessarily through climate bonds.

The working group highlighted the prospect of replacing old fluorescent, metal halide and sodium lamps with energy efficient LEDs.

Its report said: “Such an investment scores well for both carbon savings, at an average reduction of over 40 tonnes of Co2 per annum for each system installed, and financial payback typically in six years.

“It is possible to do this in association with other planned investment in buildings, which can reduce costs and minimise disruption to building users.

“The council does not currently have a plan to replace existing lights with LEDs other than on a re-active basis as lamps fail.”

The group also enthuses over retrofitting “building management systems across premises.”

Its report added: “Investment in modern building management systems helps the council achieve savings on energy usage. On average, a greater level of carbon emissions can be saved for a smaller initial investment than the LED intervention, giving a typical financial payback of under four years.

Again, it may be possible to do this in association with other planned investment to reduce costs and minimise disruption.”

Companies and municipalities are expected to issue $250 billion worth of green bonds in 2019. French state railways has released its first 100-year carbon security.

UK councils have been less enthusiastic than some overseas for green or climate bonds.