Human activities have increased the amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, in our atmosphere. Everything creates carbon emissions – from how we heat and light our homes and travel, to the food we eat and how we use our land.
As a result of these carbon emissions, our planet has already warmed significantly. Our ice caps are melting which is causing sea levels to rise and threatening our coastal communities. Scotland can expect more extreme and unpredictable weather. Climate change will affect all aspects of our lives – from our infrastructure to our natural environment.
Climate change is arguably the single biggest challenge facing our society today. It may seem daunting to the average person in Scotland. But it’s a challenge that communities across Scotland are responding to with enthusiasm and imagination.
In launching the Climate Challenge Fund in 2008, the Scottish Government recognised that, as well as national programmes, action was required to empower local communities at grass roots level to tackle carbon emissions.
In that year, the environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful accepted the challenge of managing a £10 million annual fund to encourage the widest range of community projects to come forward and use it to tackle climate change.
So far, 658 community-led organisations across every local authority in Scotland have benefited in this successful, inclusive, and transformative programme.
The record of success speaks for itself – with more than 1,000 grants awarded, and a total of more than £100 million of funds provided over the past decade. The Climate Challenge Fund has supported projects across Scotland covering home energy efficiency, sustainable food, travel projects, and waste reduction.
What is the secret ingredient? The sheer creativity and enthusiasm of groups across the country to come up with new solutions has been inspiring – and the funding has been vital in enabling and empowering local communities to turn their ideas into reality.
Keep Scotland Beautiful has added one vital spark. We support groups right through the process – helping groups turn early ideas into a grant application, providing advice, guidance, training and capacity building support. This is an integral part of our management of the Climate Challenge Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Across the country, we need to win hearts and minds – we need many more people in Scotland to understand the everyday actions they can take to help combat climate change.
After all, climate change affects us all, so we all need to take responsibility to help tackle it. That’s why we also offer free training, networking events and resources to any community-led organisation across Scotland with an interest in taking local action on climate change – not only those in receipt of a Climate Challenge Fund grant.
So far, we have successfully delivered Carbon Literacy for Communities training to more than 200 representatives of community-led organisations.
This is the first accredited training of its kind in Scotland and helps attendees get up to speed with the science behind climate change and its impacts.
But, more importantly, it builds people’s confidence to speak about climate change and identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in their local areas. Over the last ten years, a real sense of community has built up around the Climate Challenge Fund – including current and past grant recipients, national organisations, Keep Scotland Beautiful, and the Scottish Government.
Many of that family will meet this week in Perth Concert Hall, at our annual gathering event in the knowledge that together we are making a difference. We’ll share successes and challenges, insights and lessons between projects, and gain further impetus from a collective ambition to achieve even more for the longer term.
Scotland has some of the world’s leading climate change legislation. But it’s not just the Scottish Government’s responsibility to tackle climate change. It’s up to all of us. We can all work together on a local scale to have a global impact which will be good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for our health and wellbeing.
If you, or someone you know, wants to be part of the next decade of success, find out what the Climate Challenge Fund can offer at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/CCF
Graeme Dickson is a charity trustee of Keep Scotland Beautiful