I GREW up in the shadow of the Grangemouth oil refinery, one of Scotland’s biggest polluters. As a child I was kept awake by the loud roaring noises and intrusive flashing orange lights that came from the flaring. Sometimes my entire childhood bedroom was lit up by the flames.

The number of big tankers on the road was ridiculous, making it unsafe to play outside. With all of the terrible noises and dirty smells, it was an unwelcome neighbour. I used to ask myself why it had to be next to my house. Couldn’t it have been somewhere else?

But for a lot of people, it has been a lifeline. The plant has always been a major employer and everyone in the area knows someone who has worked there. A lot of my schoolmates’ dads were part of the workforce, and a lot of them gave their prime years to that site.

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Over the summer, there have been protesters outside. Climate Camp activists have sung, danced, debated and blocked the road. They are enacting the old Green mantra of “think global, act local” and are focusing on what’s happening on their doorstep. They know the pollution produced in sites like Grangemouth cannot be divorced from the soaring temperatures we are experiencing and the images of burning wildfires and heat waves we are seeing across Europe and beyond.

All over Scotland we have heavily industrial and post-industrial towns like Grangemouth. They are not just factories and names, they are also homes. We can’t transition away from these plants unless we are creating positive opportunities in place for the workers.

The workers I grew up with are some of the most talented and skilled in Scotland. Their skills are an asset and they must be at the heart of a green recovery and of growing the green industries of the future.

An unmanaged decline or transition at a site such as Grangemouth would be devastating for workers. In the 1980s we saw the terrible toll and social cost when industries are ripped out of towns and villages and workers are left behind. The recklessness and cruelty of the Thatcher government led to so many broken communities and shattered lives.

The National: File photo dated 22/5/89 of Margaret Thatcher fielding questions with Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe (background), at a press conference, in London.  Baroness Thatcher died this morning following a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell said.

That’s why, as we decarbonise our economy, we need to ensure that communities such as Grangemouth are playing a central role and that the skills are being harnessed.

There is a lot that needs to be done, and increasingly little time to do it. Every day of inaction is another day wasted.

Words are not enough. Far too many governments talk a good game on climate but don’t deliver. That is what we saw from the UK Government over the course of the COP26 conference and what we have seen every day since.

Successive UK governments have promised all sorts of far-reaching green change, but they have utterly failed to deliver it.

With 100 new oil and gas licences set to be awarded for the North Sea alone, they are actively making things worse.

We know that Downing Street’s plans don’t go far enough. The Climate Change Committee that they set up has already pointed to the huge shortcomings, noting that the Tories have been “too slow to embrace cleaner, cheaper alternatives and too keen to support new production of coal, oil and gas”.

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This kind of approach is disastrous for our environment, but also for the regions which are currently dependent on fossil fuel jobs.

What is needed is real jobs supported by real investment.

That is how we can create opportunities for future-proofed, high-skilled, high-quality and high-value employment in areas such as Grangemouth for generations to come.

Renewable energy is the cleanest, greenest and cheapest there is. And Scotland can be at the forefront of producing it. We have resources that almost any country would envy and generations of skilled workers who can do it.

It’s an environmental necessity, but also a huge opportunity. We can transform and revitalise whole communities by making them the beating heart and powerhouse of our journey to net zero.

Scotland played an instrumental role in fuelling the industrial revolution, now we need to play just as key a role in Europe’s shift away from fossil fuels.

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That’s why, for me, one of the proudest and most important achievements of the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government is the creation of a £500 million just transition fund to support projects in areas like mine and workers like those in my hometown.

We can’t afford to look back in 30 years and realise that we could have done more. The damage would be far too great. We can’t allow the wildfires we are seeing on the news to be the new normal.

I still live a short distance from my childhood home. Wherever I live in future it will always be a big part of me and will always be the community that made me.

We must make sure that social justice is at the heart of our steps for climate justice. That means communities that are not polluted for private profit, that they have well-paid jobs for generations to come and industry that they can be proud of. This is exactly what Grangemouth and many other communities like it deserve.