The problem with target dates is that they come around, sooner or later. This is not to say that targets are bad - they are not, and they can focus minds - but all the same the political imperative to set targets is often a recipe for trouble.

The target problem is being felt, this week, by the Scottish Government in relation to its climate change targets. On Wednesday, the Climate Change Committee eviscerated the Government over its failure to meet its target of reducing 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030.

Emissions are already down by around 50 per cent, so categorising the Government’s performance as an abject failure is harsh. But the Scottish Government is hoisted by its own petard; the driver behind the target appeared to be political, wanting to appear more ambitious than the rest of the UK, rather than about climate realism.

The positive headlines the Government generated by announcing its ambition have now been nullified by this alleged humiliation. Time to go back to the drawing board.

When they do, Scottish ministers should focus on two things. First, they should set dates which are entirely bespoke to the conditions and possibilities in Scotland, not politicised dates based on what our southern neighbours are up to.

Secondly, and more importantly, they should accept that when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, the politics of platitude must play second fiddle to the politics of pragmatism.

So, let’s focus on the two or three areas that really matter when it comes to reducing climate emissions. The first, and highest, is domestic transport (which, contrary to the presumptions of the rich socialists in Stop Climate Chaos, does not include aviation; a relatively tiny source of emissions).

The route map to solving this is through the decarbonisation of the private car, which requires pragmatism rather than activism. People will always own cars, especially in a country like Scotland whose land mass is largely rural and unserviced by public transport. Rather than trying to force people out of their cars (which is in shorthand the current government policy, but which really only works in our larger cities), the Government should be nudging them into battery electric vehicles.

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There are broadly three ways to do this, all of which are under government control. The first is cost. The premium on EVs over cars with internal combustion engines, or indeed hybrids, is still too high. The Government (in this instance the UK Government) should suspend VAT on sales of EVs until the passage of time and innovation brings their cost to parity with petrol. This would reduce the public tax take, of course, but given that the scant evidence that this tax is well spent, the acute financial impact is likely to be negligible.

The second is charging infrastructure. As EV drivers, including me, are aware, Chargeplace Scotland charging infrastructure is to be avoided; to be treated as for emergency use only. The chargers are very slow; my car will charge in 20 minutes at the fastest private sector chargers, but will take two hours at a "rapid" Chargeplace Scotland device. And they are extremely unreliable, meaning that depending on them is too dangerous. And yet, they are no cheaper than private sector alternatives. The Government’s interference in this market has been costly. Infrastructure development should be left entirely to the private sector, with government's role being to incentivise, to provide a quick and easy planning service, to ensure fast response on grid connections and, where necessary, to contract private providers to install chargers in low-return remote and rural areas.

The third is road infrastructure. Calls to pause road repairs and improvements, whether it be by the Green Party or other campaigners, is largely counter-productive. Whether it be at Edinburgh’s notorious Sheriffhall roundabout, improvements to which were being campaigned against again last week, or our decrepit A-road infrastructure, data shows us that the stop-start and queuing which scar these roads leads to higher emissions, not lower ones.

Hot on the heels of domestic transport is emissions from heating the home; another political hot potato which is a looming PR disaster for the Scottish Government. We could be decarbonising domestic heating now, today, by using the blue hydrogen we already produce in Scotland, and of which we will soon produce much more. Blue hydrogen can be blended with current domestic gas supplies up to around 20 per cent, without the need for any new, expensive, domestic infrastructure. Scotland has rejected this outright; blue hydrogen is produced from carbon captured by the oil and gas industry, which is a red flag for sections of the Scottish Government. Instead, all of our eggs have been put in the basket of heat pumps. They have a role to play, for sure, and will become very popular after more mass production of clean electricity, but for the moment they are disruptive, often contrary to planning regulations and most importantly far too expensive for the vast majority of householders to afford.

And, of course, in Scotland we cannot have a credible discussion about carbon emissions without addressing our energy supply and the oil and gas industry. This is a fairly straightforward issue for the normal, pragmatic person in the street, but we use a logic which evades many politicians. The development of renewable energy depends on two Ps; people and profit. Renewable energy is not yet being produced at anything like the scale we need it to, so we need to retain and expand skills and money. We like to look at the hydrocarbon industry at one end of the spectrum, and the renewables industry at the other. This is wrong; they are all part of one energy transition industry.

The Herald: Taxing oil and gas development is counterproductiveTaxing oil and gas development is counterproductive (Image: Getty)

Operating a presumption against oil and gas development, and taxing the life out of the industry, is a direct threat to the development of renewable energy. This may be problematic logic for one-dimensional campaigners, but the job of our elected leaders is to reach for an intellectual platform which sits above all of that.

We can make signs, walk on marches, spray paint buildings and glue ourselves to runways and we will no doubt sleep soundly, cocooned in our own moral virtue.

But the common theme which runs through every real solution to climate change is money. The moral imperative is strong, for sure. But money talks, and it talks loudly.

Andy Maciver is Founding Director of Message Matters and Zero Matters