THE climate emergency is a huge existential threat, but it rarely tops the news cycle.

Last week was one of those rare occasions as the Scottish Government announced it’s ditching its flagship target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 75 per cent by 2030.

It's five years since former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon boasted Scotland had the “most stretching targets” in the world.

Much like the SNP’s pledge to create 130,000 low carbon jobs by 2020 (they managed 20,500), this ambition has proven little more than hot air.

Unsurprisingly, much press focus has been on internal fallouts between the SNP and Scottish Greens and the end of the coalition government.

More people will be concerned about the consequences for our environment.

Critics suggest a balance must be struck between protecting the economy – notably the lucrative oil and gas sector – and bringing down emissions.

However, this misunderstands both the scale of the challenge we face – unprecedented levels of global warming – and the huge number of jobs which could be created through decarbonisation of energy, buildings, transport, manufacturing, waste, agriculture and land-use, nearly 400,000 according to Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) estimates.

Instead, in many areas we’re going in the wrong direction. A more recent STUC report suggests there was a 4000 decrease in low carbon and renewable staff numbers between 2021 and 2022.

These same companies raked in £4 billion in profits – there are just two green jobs for every £1 million of turnover for renewables firms.

Meanwhile, there’s little ambition to create the green jobs of tomorrow.

Scottish Funding Council statistics show the number of college students studying in the subject area of environment protection/energy/cleansing/security dropped 0.4 per cent over the past decade. Similarly, students studying manufacturing/production work fell to a share of 0.5 per cent.

The question is: bar selling off green assets and throwing money at multinational renewable firms, does a green industrial strategy even exist?

There are clear steps that can be taken. Scottish Labour has consistently called for ministers to work with businesses and trade unions to develop “training passports”, which would involve subsidising retraining due to the prohibitively high costs associated with what companies offer.

Importantly, this is what workers themselves want. A Friends of the Earth Scotland report recently showed 93 per cent support a path out of high carbon jobs and accessible retraining options.

Given ministers met with oil and gas firms on more than 200 occasions between March 2018 and December 2022, around once a week, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to flag these issues.

The truth is there’s no route to a sustainable planet which doesn’t involve taking on such big polluters: 71 per cent of global carbon emissions between 1988 and 2015 came from just 100 companies.

Instead, the Scottish Government has scrapped targets, failed to invest and even come out against Labour’s proposal for a higher windfall tax on these companies.

Transformative climate policies are achievable, but they require political leadership. If Humza Yousaf’s government won’t step up, it’s future generations who will pay the price.