Scottish training scheme helping people worldwide take action to tackle climate crisis

More than 70,000 people from a range of backgrounds and locations across the world have so far graduated from pioneering climate change training courses created by a leading Scottish educational charity.

The Climate Solutions programme, the first of its kind, was dreamed up by Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) chief executive Mike Robinson.

He is delighted with the uptake of the courses – both the in-depth Professional option and Accelerator express version.

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Climate change is considered to be the biggest existential threat ever to face humanity.

Historical interpreter and storyteller Nicola Wright used what she had learned through the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's climate courses to help create a show about the life and discoveries of a 19th-century Scottish climate science pioneer

The aim of Climate Solutions is to provide a simple and quick way for individuals and organisations to gain significant understanding of the issues, helping them prepare for transformation to a low-carbon society and outline where opportunities lie.Modules have already been updated since their original inception in 2020 and will continue to be modified to reflect the latest developments.

The online courses have proved popular with a wide variety of people and businesses of all sizes from home and abroad.

Tutors and mentors from the Outward Bound Oman group, which focuses on the development of human talent through learning outdoors, are currently undertaking Climate Solutions training to help support young people in the country.

Other big names which have rolled out the training for staff include construction firm Balfour Beatty, international engineering and professional services consultancy Jacobs, children’s music charity Sistema Scotland, Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, Quality Meat Scotland, Glasgow City Council and building supplies specialist Proctor Group.

The Climate Solutions courses, which have already been taken by more than 70,000 people worldwide, were the brainchild of Mike Robinson, chief executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Picture: Graeme Hart

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Numerous individuals from all walks of life have also signed up.

One of these is storyteller, historical interpreter and drama trainer Nicola Wright, who used what she learned during the Professional course to help create a special performance revealing the extraordinary life story of a 19th-century Scot now considered to be the ‘father of climate science’.

The show, Floor Sweeper to Climate Pioneer, featured as part of last year’s Scottish Storytelling Festival and is one of the events on offer at Perthshire’s Birnam Book Festival this May.

It describes the life and legacy of James Croll, who was born into poverty and couldn’t afford to go to university but, despite battling ill health, educated himself in science while working as a janitor at a college in Glasgow.

He went on to apply his mind to some of the biggest questions of his generation – including the age of the sun, the source and direction of ocean currents, the thickness of the Antarctic ice sheet and the cause of ice ages – and eventually published the internationally celebrated book Climate and Time.

Ms Wright’s show, commissioned by the RSGS, was created to mark the 200th anniversary of James Croll’s birth.

She says the Climate Solutions course helped her explain complex concepts to a young audience.

“I’m not a scientist and I really struggled with understanding the science of James Croll because it’s very complicated,” she said.

“The courses are very thorough but present the science of climate change in a way that is very easy to get your head around.

“It’s broken down into small parts that are very accessible and simple to understand.

“The reality of climate change is absolutely terrifying and can be overwhelming.

“My show is aimed at young people, who are very concerned about the climate crisis.

”The courses show there are solutions.

“The way they are presented means you feel you can do something.

“I found the training very empowering. I learned so much.

“James Croll’s life was absolutely extraordinary.

“He went through huge ordeals to achieve what he did and now I can bring this tale to young people in a family-friendly way.”

A filmed performance of Floor Sweeper to Climate Pioneer is due to be released online to mark International Storytelling day later this month and there are plans to take the live show on tour to schools across Scotland in the near future.

It’s also hoped that a planned in-person event at the RSGS’s Perth base, which was cancelled in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, will take place soon.

US-headquartered firm Jacobs, which has offices in cities across the world – including Edinburgh – offers the RSGS courses to all of its 55,000 global workforce as part of its sustainability strategy.

Steve Demetriou, Jacobs chair and chief executive, said: “Effectively responding to the threat of climate change requires all of us to work together – businesses, governments and communities around the world.

“Our shareholders are becoming increasingly focused on environmental, social and governance transparency.

“Our clients are talking to us every day about how to decarbonise their businesses and move towards meeting national industry targets.

“And our employees consistently expect Jacobs to lead by example when it comes to sustainability and climate action.”

RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the uptake of the Climate Solutions courses.

“The 90-minute Climate Solutions Accelerator course and the more in-depth Climate Solutions Professional course have together exceeded 70,000 sign-ups since Climate Solutions was launched in 2020.

“The courses are instrumental in equipping senior business and civic leaders with the know-how they need to effectively respond to the climate emergency within their businesses and organisations.“Given the world has changed significantly since we first launched the courses in 2020, plus the world’s biggest climate change summit, COP26, took place in November 2021, both courses are currently undergoing a thorough update to reflect the changes and progress made since then.

“This means that those who sign up to either course can rest assured that they are receiving the most up-to-date and relevant information concerning the climate emergency, which will help inform their response to it.

“To ensure Climate Solutions remains at the cutting edge, going forward both courses will receive annual updates.

“We also run regular Meet the Expert online events, giving additional continuing professional development opportunities for Climate Solutions alumni, providing them with a chance to network with like-minded individuals and learn from a range of experts in sustainability.”

Further details about the courses are available at www.climatesolutionsnetwork.com.

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