WE are living in unprecedented times, lurching from one crisis to the next, with governments making temporary fixes to stem the tide until ‘normal life’ resumes. However, returning to ‘business as usual’ is unlikely given the climate crisis.

The climate crisis, like the energy crisis, is on our very doorstep with dangerous heatwaves, fires and flooding harming people and nature. Hindsight teaches us early action saves money and lives. For example, if we had improved the energy efficiency of our buildings 10 years ago, the impact of the energy crisis would not be so devastating now.

The Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG) acknowledges this year’s Scottish Government Programme for Government does recognise many of the solutions to the cost-of-living crisis are in the transition to net zero. For example, widening access to fuel poverty programmes, freezing Scotrail fares, and supporting young people and those on low incomes to take up sustainable travel. The promised ‘New Deal’ with local government will include tackling the climate emergency; green jobs will be created through accelerating renewables developments. It is also good to see the promise to put public sector spend on food and catering towards healthy, low carbon farming and foods.

While these commitments are welcomed, CERG urges the First Minister to be bolder and take a much longer view and invest in durable solutions. There is simply no time to waste. In a recent poll conducted for the Scottish Government, half of Scots think the government isn’t doing enough to tackle the climate emergency.

Scots understand the government needs to provide immediate cash support and continued investment in the net zero transition, alongside private sector investment. Measures to ease the pressure on household expenses must be designed so the private sector – be it bus operators or landlords – can continue to invest in their net-zero future.

Look at other countries for what ‘bold’ looks like. Germany introduced a temporary 9 Euro a month public transport ticket to ease costs and encourage climate-friendly travel, Spain has introduced free travel on suburban and middle-distance trains, while in England single bus fares will be £2 for a 3 month period, albeit not until January 2023. The freeze on Scotrail fares just does not go far enough.

CERG recently published proposals for unlocking delivery on the climate emergency and tackling the cost-of-living crisis. These included a Net Zero Test to make sure we don’t spend public money on out-of-date fossil fuel technologies or infrastructure which will have to be replaced at higher cost, in a few years’ time. We also proposed smarter public investment in better and more affordable options for sustainable travel in city centres and beyond, and a rapid upscale in advice and training for farmers and crofters to help them invest with confidence in low carbon, nature-friendly farming and food production.

We know public spending is tight and the government’s borrowing powers are limited, but pushing the cost of action into the future is not financially prudent or fair on future generations, who will bear the full costs of our inaction. We urge the First Minister to consider our proposals, focusing public money on the best ways to provide long term solutions to the cost-of-living crisis, tackle climate change, improve health, and create green jobs.

Stefanie O’Gorman is director of Sustainable Economics at Ramboll and member of the Climate Emergency Response Group Steering Group