IT seems you don’t just get cancelled for saying sex is real, but for saying climate change could be solved. Last week, I wrote a column in The Herald arguing for a Covid-style collaboration between the state, universities and big business to address the “Code Red” climate emergency identified by last week’s report from the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) .

Now, I thought this was self-evident. To achieve the target of capping global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels would require a global effort on a global scale using global resources. It is only what Al Gore, the author of An Inconvenient Truth, has been saying. But the response to my article was, well, challenging. I have been accused of “climate denial”, “complacency”, “playing a get-out-of-jail-free card”. This was “leaving it to the market” and even of endorsing “a neoliberal agenda”.

Many seemed to take exception to my citing the Dogger Bank Wind Farm as a model for the kind of technological solution to global warming that must be scaled up. This single project, with its Eiffel Tower-sized wind turbines, will deliver enough electricity to power a country considerably larger than Scotland. I am genuinely mystified that so many people appear to be offended by this.

Offshore wind is one of the great achievements of the environmental movement. The International Energy Agency, which has been advising on green energy for 40 years, has said that offshore wind alone could, if developed in sufficient scale, meet global electricity demand as we decarbonise. Other forms of renewable energy are, of course, available and this may be optimistic, but it is surely unalloyed good news.

However, many in the environmental movement appear to believe that offshore wind is now tainted with capitalism and therefore morally objectionable. For many Greens, environmentalism is about rejecting a Western lifestyle, ending consumerism and abolishing the profit motive. They do not want a solution that involves capitalism and big technology. But I think his week has been an inflexion point in the climate debate. The Greens are realising, to their evident dismay, that the kind of action demanded by the IPCC can only achieved by involving big business.

However, this is not about “leaving it all to the market”. The Covid-19 project was state-co-ordinated and led. It was research in our publicly-funded universities that made vaccines possible. The Government then invested public money through the Vaccine Taskforce to build the supply chain, even before it was known whether vaccines would work. Then it was down to private pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer and AstraZeneca, to manufacture and distribute billions of doses. It could not have worked without them.

Some kind of state collaboration with industry must surely be the model for decarbonisation and net zero. The Green Party’s call for “degrowth” is positively counterproductive, not least because it would lead, if taken literally, to economic depression, mass unemployment and probably war. Too many Green commentators betray a yearning for a socialist society that they cannot define and would probably loathe. One of the leading proponents of this is The Guardian’s George Monbiot who says that “capitalism is a cancer and must be cut out”. He makes clear that he doesn’t just mean “consumer capitalism or corporate capitalism, but all capitalism”.

I am as critical of the excesses of, especially, financial capitalism as anyone, as my writing over the years confirms. But the idea that abolishing industry, the market and business is going to solve the climate crisis is manifestly ridiculous. As is the idea that our complex society could be dismantled by degrowth and turned into some rural Arcadia that never actually existed.

Just as the vaccines could not have been produced without Big Pharma, climate change will require the efforts of every large organisation, public and private, that has necessary expertise. Telling big engineering and energy companies to eff-off because they make profits would be criminally irresponsible. Nor would nationalisation help, even if it were possible. The Scottish Government can’t even build a ferry, let alone wind turbines.

Anyway, Equinor, one of the leading financiers of the Dogger Bank project, is already state-owned.

It is essentially the Norwegian state oil fund under its new green-washed moniker. One of the ironies of the climate story is that fossil fuel companies like Equinor are also at the forefront of managing the transition away from it. The test is whether they make a difference or not, rather than whether they bear historic guilt.

These companies need to be tightly regulated, of course, and taxed. They also need to be guided in the right direction by appropriate subsidies and licensing. But we can’t just stop using fossil fuels overnight. Nicola Sturgeon is right about that, though rather shameless in devolving the decision-making over the new Cambo oil field to Boris Johnson. Whether the Cambo field is developed or not is a matter of supply. If it is substituting for oil and gas that would otherwise be imported from odious regimes like Saudi Arabia or Russia, then it should be developed. If renewables can bear the load, then it should

not be.

For the other inconvenient truth about climate change is that it will also involve economic growth – a shedload of it. Anti-growth moralists seem to think that growth only means waste, consumerism and SUVs. That is economically illiterate. Growth can be anything – even wellbeing spas and yoga classes. The National Health Service is a huge contributor to growth. The creative industries contribute more to GDP than manufacturing.

It’s going to take growth on an unprecedented scale to address the climate emergency. Massive investment, not just in windfarms and other forms of renewable energy, but in scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere through capture and storage, which is the next huge task identified by IPCC.

Then there is planting forests, building flood defences, scrapping gas boilers, electrifying transport, insulating 24 million homes. And that is before we begin to look at the redistributive consequences of climate change.

Some critics also took objection to my “scapegoating China”. Well, China is burning half of all the world’s coal and has been opening new power stations almost by the week. India is not far behind. Asian countries are telling us that they cannot develop their economies without using coal. This isn’t true, but that’s beside the point.

These countries are going to develop whether we like it or not. And the only way to ensure that the Global South develops in a sustainable way is by technology transfer and subsidies. Hundreds of billions will be demanded at the COP26 summit to wean China off coal. This massive transfer of wealth will have to be paid for by economic growth – there simply is no other way.

Developed countries are already heavily overdrawn because of Covid-19. If they were to reverse economic growth, as advocated by the Greens, they would be plunged into severe recession and massive public spending cuts. And you could forget climate transfers. The truth is that degrowth is austerity by another name.