Glasgow is hosting world leaders for COP26 in Glasgow in ten days.
Whatever the outcome of those talks, we know there are going to be big changes around the world. There has to be, if we are to avoid the worst kinds of climate disaster.
The climate emergency can sometimes feel like a problem that happens to other people in far away countries. It’s worrying, but it’s easy to just park it and hope it will somehow be fixed by experts and bureaucrats.
The fact is, we will see big changes right here in Scotland and sooner than we think. These will be felt in our everyday lives and will shape the kind of country we’re making together and the place where our children and grandchildren will grow up.
So what should these changes be? And who gets a say in all this?
I think Scotland’s response to the climate emergency has to be led by Scotland’s people. It has to be fair and effective. It can’t be something that’s done to us from above.
Scotland’s Climate Assembly is a mini-Scotland. Over 100 people, representative of the country as a whole in terms of age, gender, household income, ethnicity, geography, rurality, disability, and attitude towards climate change.
They heard the best evidence from over 100 scientists and experts, looked at what kind of solutions are out there, and agreed 81 recommendations for how we should tackle the climate emergency here in Scotland.
Scotland’s Civic Charter on Climate shows there is a mandate from Scotland’s people for big changes led by us, the people of Scotland. It shows the changes the Climate Assembly is proposing have support from organisations and employers up and down the country, from local government to our businesses, charities and universities.
So what kind of changes are we talking about?
The Climate Assembly’s recommendations would cut right down on how much carbon we emit in Scotland. But they’d do more than that. If the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament act on these recommendations, I believe they can make Scotland a better place with a better future.
Here are just a few examples. The Climate Assembly says we should have a new National Nature Service to build up new skills and new jobs in protecting our mountains, lakes, forests and seas. It says we’ve got to make it easier and cheaper to travel around our beautiful country on public transport using a single “oyster card” for trains, buses and ferries.
It says we can cut how much waste we create, whether that’s on products we don’t really need or plastic that can’t be recycled. It says we need everyone in Scotland to learn about the climate emergency and what kinds of actions we can take to fight it.
It says our homes have to be easier and cheaper to keep warm, meaning we’ll spend much less on energy bills and will support lots of good jobs for those who will work to bring our buildings up to a new standard.
It says a successful Scotland will have thriving communities and a thriving natural environment.
I’m proud that Social Bite, the movement against homelessness that I founded, has signed up to Scotland’s Civic Charter on Climate. The climate crisis is a threat to everyone, but it falls hardest and fastest on the shoulders of the most vulnerable among us.
That’s why I’m calling on everyone to get behind this call for Scotland to show genuine leadership on the climate emergency. Get your organisation signed up to Scotland’s Civic Charter on Climate today using #SignForScotland.