OLDER Glasgow Times readers will remember all too well the devastation our city faced in the 1970s and 1980s when so many of our traditional industries either collapsed or were shut.

Families had their sources of income removed never to be restored and entire communities lost their sense of identity. The consequences were deep and far reaching, many still lingering today.

In hindsight, it was probably inevitable that the heavy industrial age would eventually come to an end. But the real damage was caused by having no plan to replace the jobs in the shipyards and other industries and the failure to put in place the policies and actions needed to respond to the social impacts.

Glasgow, of course, recovered in so many ways and has developed a very diverse economy in recent decades. So too our communities, with housing that is now the envy of many other big cities. And more recently, we’ve been putting in place the policies to ensure that all our citizens can share in the benefits of that change.

Like cities across our planet however, we stand at a new crossroads. The global response to the Climate Emergency will require many changes to be made, including to our economy. It will create both challenges and opportunities but unlike before, this time we will be ready.

Some of you will be familiar with the term ‘just transition’. In short, it means that the changes we need to make to address climate change must not make either working people or the poorest in society worse off, and that we use the opportunity to also create healthier lives in fairer, more equal societies. This is particularly pertinent in Glasgow, given the memories and legacies of our post-industrial past.

We need to ensure that our businesses and economy are ready and equipped to make the necessary changes and that we are able – as we have done over several decades – to attract new investment to Glasgow, only this time focused on the world’s new green economy.

And critically we have to ensure that Glaswegians have the skills and training to take up these new opportunities and adapt to oncoming change.

This is something that can’t be done by one sector alone and will require a unified Team Glasgow approach. So today I will be joining representatives from our learning institutions to plot that path together.

We need to know what the gaps in our skills base are, what work is already underway, what a changed economy will look like in 10 or 15 years and what we need to do to respond to that.

Some of it is already obvious. Our young people will need more science-based, technological and digital skills as they leave school. Similarly, construction will change so buildings are better able to hold heat and are more energy-efficient.

But we also need to make sure that our citizens already employed in sectors that will feel the impact of change more than others also have the skillsets to take advantage of new opportunities.

I believe Glasgow is in a better position to secure opportunities within the new green economy than most of our peers across the world. Because while we all need to make the transition, no other city is hosting potentially the most significant climate event ever staged.

COP26 has put us on the world’s stage and businesses are interested in what the city of COP has to offer them. Part of our offer has to be a trained-up workforce ready and willing to take Glasgow – and our planet – onto a healthier, greener and more just path.

When talking about the climate emergency I always set out to make sure it is relevant to the lives of our ordinary citizens here in Glasgow. Few things are more fundamental to our well-being and life chances than well-paid and secure employment and having the skills to access that.

AS mentioned above, how we build our homes will be crucial to tackling climate change. Here in the city we’re already building homes to what is known as the ‘Glasgow Standard’.

The standard we now demand includes new housing having sufficient space and contributing to strong and vibrant neighbourhoods with access to outdoor space. But it also ensures they’re designed to generate the lowest carbon emissions possible.

It’s a really strong example of how the climate agenda is connected to the everyday challenges of Glaswegians. Not only are we cutting emissions, we are also contributing towards the health and well-being of citizens and tackling the scourge of fuel poverty.

So I really welcome the Scottish Government’s ‘Housing to 2040’ plans, which commit to building 100,000 new homes across Scotland by 2032.

As part of the Government’s plans, Glasgow has been allocated a record £120million for the current year to deliver new affordable and social housing in partnership with the city’s registered social landlords. This will be used to fund around 850 new housing approvals and will see the completion of almost 1500 new homes in Glasgow during 2021/22.

Since 2003, the city has received almost £1.3billion, which translates into 14,560 new affordable homes. You only have to compare the look and feel of some of our neighbourhoods in 2021 with the way they were 20 years ago to get a sense of the impact of that funding on Glasgow.

Housing is about so much more than bricks and mortar. It’s about lives, communities, jobs, training, skills and cutting back on the harmful fossil fuel emissions which are so damaging to our planet and its climate.