Everyone can help tackle climate change

Thousands have written to Nicola Sturgeon telling the FM what factors of their life could be affected by climate change. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Thousands have written to Nicola Sturgeon telling the FM what factors of their life could be affected by climate change. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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THINGS that are dear to us are under threat, writes Tom Ballantine.

A few weeks ago, across Scotland people took part in local events which highlighted the things that they hold dear and which are affected by climate change. Thousands of people have been writing to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to tell her what they love that is under threat from rising global temperatures.

People have highlighted things like the changing seasons in our countryside and the future quality of life of their children and grandchildren. They have told us of their concern for those living in the poorest parts of the world, who have done the least to contribute to climate change, and are already suffering most from its consequences.

Climate change is a topic which many people don’t like talking about or don’t think is relevant to them. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and our member organisations are asking people to see the connections between the things that matter to them and this important issue.

For example, over the Easter holidays, one of our members, RSPB Scotland, will be highlighting different species in Scotland threatened by climate change. Raising awareness of how all that we love in nature could be affected by climate change is the aim of a special photography competition which is part of the “For the love of…” campaign.

When people can see why it’s important to their own lives, they get involved and take action. People across the country are joining us to ask First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ensure that in the months and years to come Scotland plays its fair part in addressing climate change: described by the UN as “the defining issue of our time”.

The UN climate negotiations in Paris this December make this a crucial year for addressing global warming. World leaders are expected to conclude negotiations for a new global deal to tackle rising emissions and address its impacts. Beyond Paris, public pressure on this issue must continue the momentum to ensure what is agreed is actually delivered.

That is why we, as part of the global climate movement, are planning several activities throughout the year, including a rally outside the Scottish Parliament with MSPs and a mass lobby of new MPs at Westminster shortly after the general election.

Scotland already has considerable – but necessary – ambition on climate change. In 2009, every political party in the Scottish Parliament supported the Scottish Climate Change Act. The legislation is world-leading and we, at Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, have been doing as much as we can to share this positive example and inspire other countries to commit to action of similar ambition.

However, if our country is to retain its credibility on climate, the Scottish Government must do much more to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Earlier this week, this call was again made in a new independent expert assessment of progress towards meeting the targets set under the Scottish Climate Change Act.

In its latest report, the UK Committee on Climate Change acknowledged the progress made in Scotland in areas such as renewable electricity, community renewables and reducing energy demand. The report also said that more action is needed to meet future emissions targets, particularly in low-carbon heat, energy efficiency, the public sector, transport, and agriculture and land-use sectors.

This is the fourth time the government’s advisers have called on the Scottish Government to do much more and deliver the benefits of a low-carbon economy. The Scottish Government needs to respond to these calls by identifying and rolling out additional policy measures to reduce emissions now.

We at Stop Climate Chaos Scotland will continue to engage positively with the Scottish Government and politicians in all parties to find ways of reducing emissions, and moving towards a greener economy.

We invite you to show your support for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this crucial year for climate change. All of us are, or will be, affected by rising global temperatures. All of us have a role to play in reducing those effects. We need to act now, at every level: international, national, local and individual, for the sake of the things that matter to each one of us.

• Tom Ballantine is chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Tell Nicola Sturgeon what you love that may be affected by climate change at www.stopclimatechaos.org/fm-action

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