HOW much should Britain pay to save the planet from our manmade climate crisis? A daft question, you might think. After all, without a healthy planet, we’ll all pay a potentially fatal price.

So it was with some interest, I turned my gaze away from the Christmas election this week, intrigued by a UN report. Rene Castro Salazar, assistant director general at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, has actually put a figure on stabilizing emissions of CO2, the biggest greenhouse gas, for 15-20 years, giving the world time to adopt carbon-neutral technologies.

According to Mr Castro Salazar, the price tag for this massive gift to humanity is a mere $300bn. It would be achieved through restoring 900 million hectares of land that have been degraded by misuse, overgrazing, deforestation and other human activities. In practice, this would mean returning that land to carbon-converting pasture, food crops or trees.

“With political will and investment of about $300bn, it is doable,” Castro Salazar said, by “using the least-cost options we have, while waiting for the technologies in energy and transportation to mature and be fully available in the market. It will stabilize the atmospheric changes, the fight against climate change, for 15-20 years. We very much need that.”

Now $300bn may seem a lot. But when you consider how much money we waste in the UK alone, without any apparent gain to ordinary people, it makes me wonder why we aren’t rushing to invest in projects that are more beneficial.

How about the fact UK taxpayers are subsidising the same multinational oil companies that are literally fuelling the climate catastrophe? Over the last twelve months, Britain increased support for fossil fuel projects overseas to almost £2bn, an elevenfold increase. In fact, a quarter of the total spending by UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Government agency responsible for promoting British exports with credit, guarantees, loans and insurance, went to oil and gas operations in Oman, Kuwait, Brazil and other countries.

By contrast, UKEF (which means me and you) gave a paltry £700,000 to support renewables last year, covering mostly wind turbines in the Netherlands and Germany.

Or take the renewal of the obsolete and unusable Trident nuclear missile and submarine programme. To keep four submarines loaded with apocalyptic weapons for roughly twenty years – the same period of time Castro Salazar mentions – will cost £205bn according to estimates based upon the Government’s own figures. Remember, these are weapons only a card-carrying psychopath would ever consider using, bearing in mind that the overwhelming casualties would be among innocent civilians.

What, too, about the money already spent on Brexit? Whether you think that wasted, of course, is a topic of on-going debate. Nevertheless, according to world-respected financial analysts Standard & Poor, Brexit has cost the British economy £66bn in just under three years, or around £1,000 for every person in the country, with around three per cent wiped off GDP. In addition, Standard & Poor calculated that since the June 2016 referendum the UK has lost £550m of economic growth per week.

Meanwhile, our bungling Government has wasted at least £2bn on Operation Yellowhammer, their abandoned preparations for a head-banging No Deal Brexit. Included in the cost is £100m advertising Boris Johnson’s “die in a ditch” date to leave the EU on 31st October. Millions have been wasted on 50p commemorative coins melted down like Arnie at the end of Terminator or Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Not to mention the £100 million on ghost ferries that will never set sail and, in some cases, do not even exist.

Personally, I would rather all that money – which represents real world resources, human labour and talent – went on something useful. Health care, housing, education, social care for the old and vulnerable, renewable energy and transport, climate renewal, all cry out for genuine investment.

There is one common theme behind the above examples of waste. Ordinary people are not benefiting. Neither is the planet we rely on. If the upcoming Christmas election offers hope, it is that, at last, we might get a Government willing to spend more rationally and prudently for all our sakes, not just to benefit the wealthy.