Scotland is leading the way in the fight against climate breakdown, according to campaigner and environmentalist Chris Packham.

The TV presenter and naturalist has praised Scotland’s “ambitious” carbon target for 2045 and Dundee’s council-run electric vehicle charging hubs and fleet of electric taxis.

The Springwatch host is lending his climate-fighting credentials to an energy efficiency campaign launched by Smart Energy UK urging householders to use smart meters to monitor their energy usage.

“Not only will a smart meter save money, it will empower people to make changes that positively affect the environment”, says Mr Packham.

“People do want to make a difference but they don’t know what to do. The key thing about this campaign is it’s about self-empowerment and not waiting for others to fix the issues for us. This is literally something we can do from the comfort of our own home and could save us up to £200 a year.”

Policies are changing and people are waking up, he said, but not fast enough, which is why he supports the work of Extinction Rebellion, the environmental protestors who faced criticism last week for disrupting London’s public transport system.

Mr Packham says: “It’s important we keep this conversation at the forefront of public and political discussion. I’ve been supporting Extinction Rebellion on the streets of London who are dramatising the [climate] event. It has to be confronted and they are generating tension so they can’t be ignored.”

Climate activism isn’t confined to donning a costume and heading to London, of course, to make a difference – changes can be made at home by installing smart meters, switching to low-energy lighting and cutting down on plastic waste.

Mr Packham adds: “All of these things might sound like tiny chips off a massive block but when we all do them they’re significant chips off that block and that will make the process in the future easier to deal with.

“What we don’t want to do is leave this action to to the last minute and it will be a catastrophically difficult, expensive and uncomfortable process for those in the future.”

That Scotland is not yet experiencing weather as drastic as in other countries can mean that fewer people are taking climate breakdown as seriously as they should. 

As Mr Packham says: “It’s too easy for people to think the main ills of climate change are happening elsewhere in the world. We turn on the TV and watch fires destroying homes in California and we see flooding in the Far East. We do have flooding in the UK but not on that scale at this point in time”, Mr Packham said.

“The Scottish skiing industry was a significant contributor to the economy. Aviemore was a very busy place and that industry is in decline now and that’s a very rapid reaction to climate change. 

“I can point to the distribution of flora and fauna in Scotland. We see declines in those high montagne mountain species because it’s not cold there long enough anymore. So climate change is out there. It’s outside your back door every time you open it. 

“One of the problems that we face in the UK at the moment is that it isn’t actually biting our bottoms as hard as it is in other parts of the world and therefore we don’t see it as critical an issue as other people might.”

Consumers can protest with their purse, he said, by shopping in stores that use little to no plastic or choosing to travel by electric vehicles.

Mr Packham once removed all of the packaging from his groceries in one shop, passing it to staff and asking them to stop stocking it.

He said: “It’s a bit of a laugh and everyone thinks you’re a bit eccentric but the pounds in our pockets are a very, very powerful tool.

“If you’re out in the evening in Dundee and you want to go home, choose one of the electric minicabs and say you don’t want to get into one with an internal combustion engine. We have the capacity to instigate that change.”

Mr Packham himself has used a smart meter for more than 12 years. He has stopped flying domestically, travels almost exclusively by public transport and recently switched from a vegetarian diet to a vegan one but he is not militant about being meat-free.

He said: “I would encourage people to eat less meat. That doesn’t mean they have to stop but cutting down is significant.”

Above all, Mr Packham has hope. 

He says: “I have no doubt that [we] and our children will go through an uncomfortable period of change but, ultimately, I know we will fix it. What fuels my optimism is that we already have an arsenal of abilities to deal with it.”