A STANDARDISED portfolio of words and phrases now hang from the climate challenge, draining it of any meaningful intent. Thus we are tasked with saving the planet “for our children”. We belong to the generation which “killed the earth”. We have “poisoned” this place and upset the delicate algebra that holds the eco-system together. When we’re not poisoning it we’re “plundering” it.

Nicola Sturgeon added her own mea culpa to a pot that’s already brimming over with performative self-loathing. “If we fail, we will not be able to look the next generation in the eye,” she told Channel4 this week.

The next generation is already here, First Minister, and they’re not so stupid as to swallow any of this. They already know who’s to blame. And they know that in propagating such oven-ready generalisations we give the main perpetrators of the climate crisis a get-out-of-jail card.

These are some of the questions the next generation want answered: why are so many of the same communities in the same places still suffering from the same suite of multi-deprivations that caused the premature deaths of many of their forbears. Why, after 21 years of solidly left-wing government does civic Scotland still cling to a neo-liberal agenda in which the interests of rich and powerful people are still paramount?

READ MORE: Drug laws and virtune signalling

Why does class-driven inequality still stalk our most populous regions? Why does Scotland still have the most feudal system of land ownership in Europe where a few hundred families own half of the country? You might want to ask Benny ‘The Banker’ Higgins, one of your chief economic advisers that one. He’s the chief hod-carrier for one of the largest landowners in Europe.

Or, maybe some of your advisors could answer it. Especially those who recently exempted the Queen, one of Scotland’s biggest landowners, from a law that would have obliged her to cut carbon emissions on her Scottish estates.

Why are the working-class people who are disproportionately menaced by this persistent economic disparity locked out of the government of Scotland?

You could hand some of these questions over to the Scottish Greens who prop up your majority at Holyrood. Since they entered government the two Green ministers have performed the same role as garden gnomes, very expensive garden gnomes. When you place them adroitly, these ornaments can be used to hide the cracks in your paved driveway or the bald patches on your manicured lawn.

And could our political classes please cease their fake outrage about doing down Glasgow ahead of Cop26. These people have been doing down Glasgow for generations. They chose to locate the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh, which has lately hollowed out its centre and turned itself into a boutique destination for the global rich.

The proportion of Scotland’s population living within 30 miles of Glasgow, an expanse that’s home to most of our poorest communities, is more than a third. Did our political elites reckon that was too close for comfort? What a boost to the economy of this sprawling region the Scottish parliament would have been.

We now know that the city’s political leaders, mainly Labour, practised a manifestly malevolent form of social engineering on Glasgow’s most vulnerable citizens. This was in the 1960s and 1970s when the “deserving” working-class were placed in aspirational new towns while those considered to be irredeemable were herded into sprawling housing projects. These quickly became sink estates where essential repairs and maintenance of the housing stock were deliberately neglected, resulting in health problems associated with dampness and cold.

READ MORE: COP26 - what's really going on

Yet, there’s been a pleasing spin-off from Cop26: the rise of trade union activity and a reminder of why it’s necessary. And a reminder too of how treacherous it can be if you choose to sup with the SNP. This party spent years wooing trade unions away from their traditional support of Labour. During the 2014 independence referendum their support in chivvying their membership base away from the Labour Party was pivotal.

Now, when they behave in a manner that trade unions ought to be – leveraging every ounce of influence on a playing-field normally stacked against them – they are reviled by nationalist politicians whose families benefited from such negotiations years gone by.

If Glasgow and Scotland was ruled by a truly enlightened and progressive administration we wouldn’t be handing billions of pounds worth of government contracts to firms who hide their profits overseas. We’d be requiring that they all recognise trade unions as a basic means of protecting the dignity and long-term security of workers. This is what drives a fair economy.

Working class people tend to spend their money locally and in shops whose employees are their friends and neighbours. The immediate needs of their families and communities mean they can ill afford to acquire multiple properties and park their cash in global investment vehicles. Yet Glasgow, in common with several other major local authorities, handed their entire IT contracts to a giant Canadian firm. This city and the small firms which help to sustain its economy will reap very little of this.

Last year, a 2020 a study by Oxfam concluded that the world’s richest 10% produced 52% of carbon emissions in the last 25 years. And that the carbon consumption of the world’s richest 1% is more than 100 times higher. Inordinate greed by the world’s richest people are the major causes of the climate crisis. They consume land, property, food, energy and wealth at an unsustainable rate.

In 2019 the Climate Accountability Institute reported that 20 fossil fuel companies have been responsible for 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane in the last six decades. They spend billions on PR and lobbying to ensure that successive declarations of intent from forums such as Cop26 never make it off the page.

If the First Minister really wants to look the next generation in the eye she ought to be specifically exposing these behaviours, not indulging in bubble-gum sophistry.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.