Democratic governments require partners. In war, they need allies. In peace, they crave, at minimum, acquiescence with their domestic programme.

That is particularly true of global initiatives such as the drive to combat climate change. As world leaders are rediscovering in Dubai.

And as Scottish Ministers, most notably those of the Green persuasion, are finding out again at Holyrood.

Zealous enthusiasm is not enough. You need friends.

On which theme, my attention was drawn to a lecture delivered by John Swinney at Ulster University under the auspices of the John and Pat Hume Foundation.

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The former Deputy First Minister’s theme was “effective governance”. He suggested that involved: fresh perspective, clarity of purpose, linkage between policy and finance, early intervention and a focus upon outcomes.

But, further, he accused the UK Government of toppling the power balance inherent in devolution by countermanding Holyrood actions, post Brexit.

Most notably in environmental policy, by applying a Westminster veto to the deposit return scheme, advanced by Green Minister Lorna Slater.

Mr Swinney said this was part of a pattern designed “to assert the fundamental dominance of the Westminster Parliament” in the UK’s structure of governance.

The Scottish Secretary Alister Jack argues the move was designed to protect the UK market – and that it rescued Scotland from an inept scheme which was distrusted by business.

Either way, we are reminded that partisan rivalry and policy differences can undermine the search for co-operation in attempting to counter climate change.

Being monarch, King Charles III does not need to seek voter endorsement – although “The Firm” are always reluctant to stray too far from popular sentiment.

But the King was able to use his elevated standpoint to advantage in Dubai where he warned governments, democratic and otherwise, to mend their ways. He said the climate crisis demanded “genuine transformational action”.

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Patrick Harvie is no fan of the monarchy. But he would agree with that sentiment. However, it would seem that he and his Green colleagues are struggling somewhat in their endeavour to win friends and influence people.

To be fair, the fault may not lie solely with the Greens – although it would appear that their environmental evangelism has yet to sway opinion sufficiently. To continue the metaphor, some find them too preachy by half.

Consider the evidence. Mr Harvie has slowed down his plan to oblige us to phase out fossil fuel domestic boilers. The new timetable, he said, would be “fairer and clearer”.

Opposition parties immediately responded with talk of chaos and, not unreasonably, queried who would ultimately foot the estimated £33bn bill for decarbonisation.

But there is more at play here. Mr Harvie, who is an astute pragmatist alongside his campaigning fervour, knows he has to persuade and cajole.

Hence the deceleration. The target of decarbonising one million Scottish homes by 2030 has been dropped – although completion of the “clean heat” scheme by 2045 is still the objective.

Further, Mr Harvie has moved away somewhat from talk of financial penalties for those households who fail to meet individual targets.

In essence, that is enthusiasm confronting reality. The Greens live and breathe environmental eagerness. Most folk are still getting round to the consequences.

A survey by Consumer Scotland suggested we are concerned about climate change – but think the primary responsibility lies with government and business. Not us.

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Hence political nerves. Some SNP members at Holyrood remain unimpressed by the domestic heating initiative – or, perhaps more precisely, leery about the electoral consequences.

In particular, they fret over Scotland being ahead of the curve by comparison with the change in tack announced by the Prime Minister in September when he sent some Green initiatives into reverse, while insisting the overall target would still be met.

More broadly, a degree of scepticism. Holyrood’s finance committee excoriated the Circular Economy Bill, introduced by the Greens, for a lack of transparency over cost.

If you invite people in Scotland to think seriously about climate change, to consider what they, individually, might do, they might reasonably ask what others are doing. They will seek evidence of co-operation.

In which context, Mr Harvie this week challenged the UK Government to assist his cause by reducing the price gap between gas and electricity.

Now, that could, arguably, mean either cutting the price of electricity. Or increasing the price of gas. Which do you think is more likely? Which do you think would be more popular?

But people in search of collaborative signs will also glance at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates – where the host apparently planned to use that role to broker oil and gas deals. The response? “Private meetings are private”.

I know, I know, if nobody goes first, then nothing will happen and the planet will burn. Trust me, I get the concept.

But action to save the planet, by definition, has to be global. People have to be persuaded, not punished. Protest, however well-intentioned, will not comfort the struggling household who have to find the money to replace their heating system and their petrol car.

Despite early scepticism, COP28 started well with a $420m fund to assist developing nations who are suffering the effects of climate change, caused by wealthier, industrial zones.

Next step was a collective agreement on sustainable food production, moving well beyond the familiar arguments over fossil fuels and climate compensation. Again, arguably positive.

Back in Scotland, the Greens say that, despite the delays, the proposed action on heating buildings could be a game changer, not least because it represents around 20 per cent of Scotland’s carbon emissions.

More, it is arguable that relatively swift action on climate change in Scotland could help stimulate economic development, giving us a market advantage.

Such is the forecast by Skills Development Scotland this week – although, again, there will be voices questioning the details and the timetable.

All the while, we exhort each other to act. My late father was wont to utter lines from stage and wireless shows, to amuse himself and us.

A favourite, from the comedy ITMA, was: “After you, Claude.” “No, after you, Cecil!”

For the sake of the planet, someone has to go first – but only with the rest closely following.