THE EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service issued a press release this week noting last year’s climate “highlights”.

Rarely has a word been wider of the mark. The temperatures were high, but there was nothing to feel positive about; the announcement catalogued climate catastrophe happening in plain sight.

Last year was the warmest on record, going back to 1850.

Every month from June onwards was warmer than the corresponding month in any previous year. The global mean temperature was 1.48C higher than pre-industrial levels.

There were unprecedented marine heatwaves from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Mexico, whereas the Antarctic saw its lowest ever ice levels and Canada was wrecked by persistent wildfires.

There is no getting away from these facts; the climate is changing in ways which will cause irreparable harm and massive cost unless we urgently change course.

And yet, in the face of that awful reality, the Conservative government is bringing forward legislation that would commit UK regulators to run annual rounds for issuing new oil and gas licences.

It’s no great surprise the Tories are pursuing climate vandalism in an election year. They are desperate and will gladly turn the climate crisis into a culture war if they think it’s worth a few votes, and if it helps the profits of their oil and gas company pals.

It is much more surprising that one of them has actually had the conviction to quit over the climate.

Former minister Chris Skidmore, right, has resigned as an MP over the oil and gas plans, saying he can “no longer condone nor continue to support a government that is committed to a course of action that I know is wrong and will cause future harm”.

His taking a stand has exposed the hypocrisy at the heart of a Tory government that claims to care about our environment while fighting to extract every last drop of fossil fuels.

It also shows up Labour’s flawed logic. Keir Starmer says he won’t allow new licences when in power but also won’t do anything to overturn ones granted by the departing Tories, including the huge, reckless Rosebank field.

Too often, Labour lack conviction on the climate. We’ve seen that in spades here in Glasgow, with Labour councillors backing measures like Low Emission Zones in principle but objecting when it comes to actually implementing changes.

This General Election year will be crucial in securing the kind of urgent action the climate crisis demands.

That’s why it’s important that more people than ever before will have the chance to vote Green in a UK election.

Time and again we’ve seen that Greens being on the ballot makes the climate an election issue. When we’re not there, the other parties don’t mention it.

The frightening climate records seen in 2023 are likely to be exceeded this year. We are running out of time to stop runaway climate change.

In 2024, whenever you go to the polls, do everything you can to elect politicians with climate conviction.