CITIES like Glasgow have long been the environment where progressive social change can develop and take hold. And so it is with the Climate Emergency, the pressing issue of our times.

Sustainability and carbon reduction are the contexts we all now operate within. But as I have said at many events on the future direction of our city, Glasgow’s economic and social well-being, the quality of life of all our citizens, these go entirely hand-in-hand with our push to become a carbon neutral city.

In the medium to longer term there will be a major focus on how we heat our homes and move around, the two biggest contributors to carbon emissions. But solving these issues also means properly addressing fuel poverty and improving public transport.

In the immediate term it means moving the climate emergency into the mainstream of all we do, ensuring our efforts are embedded into all our services and the partnerships major cities like ours require. We need to shift our focus away from seeing carbon reduction as a standalone agenda. Sustainability is about the every day.

In just the last couple of weeks alone it’s becoming increasingly evident that our job as the administration in this city of improving Glasgow and the lives of its citizens is also accelerating the groundwork for a low carbon future.

I was delighted that one of our key decision-making bodies, the City Administration Committee, approved taking the redevelopment of George Square to the next stage. The look and feel of our main civic space has long been an issue for Glaswegians. Frankly, they deserve better than a glorified roundabout.

The people of Glasgow want more greening, trees and flowers; less traffic and parking; good quality and accessible events; a permanently available public space where people can meet, sit, protest and walk through; and a high quality in design.

Last week’ approval allows us to really push forward with that. Officers are developing plans to ensure our plans don’t have a negative impact on the traffic management within the city.

Visitors to the Square will see the proposed new layout begin to take shape by the time we stage the European Championships in June.

By then the east and west sides will become pedestrianised, while the north and south sides will be public transport corridors. It will be late 2023 before all the work is completed but within just a few months the experience of the Square will have improved.

Throughout this process, we will continue to engage with everyone with a stake in the square to create a civic space we can all enjoy and be proud of.

At the same meeting we approved our Open Space Strategy, which will guide how space can be used to improve health and liveability in Glasgow.

Open space has a key role to play in providing for both carbon savings and in helping the city adapt to climate change and the strategy will direct how to best use these. Discussions with local communities and organisations will now take place to establish aspirations for spaces in their areas and will also see the council supporting community groups to manage open spaces through asset transfer, participatory working or co-producing their plans with the authority or other organisations.

Our open spaces are enormously important to us, socially, economically and environmentally, and considering how we can best use them is crucial to our future quality of life and success.

Elsewhere, our Environment and Sustainability Policy Committee made a significant step forward in addressing carbon emissions from vehicles. It approved almost doubling the 160-plus electric vehicle charging points in the city and to explore creating a charging park for taxis.

Habits are changing and this is being facilitated by the provision of infrastructure. The council, or indeed government, cannot do this alone. So were working closely with Scottish Power Energy Networks about rolling charge points into residential areas to really create the conditions for that major shift which is needed.

And it was great to see our Food Growing consultation launched. As has been stated, no space is too small to make difference on climate action and I would urge anyone with an interest to get involved.

Finally, I was thrilled to see our long-term plans to forge new, meaningful international relationships take shape with a partnership with Berlin. As I said at the outset, cities are where real change happens and in the context of Brexit and the climate emergency, Glasgow can really benefit from a substantial partnership with one of the world’s great capitals.