The world is getting hotter. It is being suggested that July was globally the warmest month on record ever. In the UK, we had temperatures hitting 38.1C. Experts have said that climate change made these temperatures at least five times as likely to happen.
We may enjoy the need to apply sun cream, swim in the North Sea or have a barbecue. However, it is a wake-up call of things to come if we don’t address the activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Much of what we do creates carbon emissions: heating our homes and workplaces, driving petrol or diesel cars or flying off on holiday. It is as a result of these actions that the planet has already warmed significantly.
With the Met Office confirming that the ten hottest years have been in the period since 2002, in Scotland we can expect more extreme and unpredictable weather. Climate change will affect all aspects of our lives – from infrastructure to our natural environment.
Scotland’s future needs to be a fair transition to a zero-carbon economy and society. We already have some of the world’s most ambitious targets for climate change set in legislation. But it will need all of us to deliver the Scottish Government’s targets. We can do that by working together on a local scale, having a global impact. That will be good for the environment, the economy and our health and wellbeing.
Keep Scotland Beautiful, of which I am a trustee, supports a diverse range of stakeholders every day to help them change the way that they think about our environment, and to encourage them to take action to protect it. We focus on tackling climate change, litter and unsustainable levels of consumption. We do this under the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – 17 Global Goals introduced to set out a positive vision for the future.
Goal 13 is about Climate Action and encourages us all to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. We are seeing people, particularly young people, do great things on a daily basis, which gives us hope for the future.
Our work helps people to understand climate change, to reduce their carbon emissions, to improve local areas and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Changing behaviour may only mitigate climate change by about 20 per cent. However, as it is something we can all do, we proactively support it. Our work with young people, businesses, communities and public bodies over the past two decades has led to many more people having the confidence to make simple changes and to understand the need for wider change.
This includes our flagship education programme, Eco-Schools. This is designed to facilitate whole-school community action on Learning for Sustainability and is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. The programme encourages young people to engage with the environment by allowing them the opportunity to actively protect it – climate change is at the heart of our work in schools.
We have also developed Scotland’s first accredited Carbon Literacy training course, which has enabled hundreds of people to build confidence and identify opportunities to reduce their carbon emissions. For more than a decade we have administered the Climate Challenge Fund for the Scottish Government. In the last year alone, we have supported 110 communities across Scotland’s with funding and resources to help them take local-level action to support the transition to a low carbon future. We are also involved in helping people across Scotland to learn more, to have conversations and discuss solutions, and to take action as part of the Scottish Government’s programme of Big Climate Conversations.
We have also received funding to roll out a new Climate Ready Classrooms programme which provides practitioners and learners in schools with workshops, tools and resources that support a whole-school approach to climate action within the Curriculum for Excellence.
It is clear that all across Scotland we need to win hearts and minds and enable more people to understand the actions they can take to help combat climate change. Many people are involved in taking action already. The signs are positive and we are making progress because people are receptive to change when support is provided for them to act.
Find out how you can act at keepscotlandbeautiful.org.
Graeme Dickson, charity trustee, Keep Scotland Beautiful