Climate change will be the greatest challenge humanity faces and will affect every biological system which makes Earth habitable. Already temperatures are rising, hydrological cycles are changing and sea levels are rising, all of which contribute to the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. If this rise continues, food production could halt and levels of homelessness could rapidly spike as areas become inhospitable. Even more species could become extinct.
Girlguiding Scotland believes in a better world. In 2018, Girlguiding asked 76,000 girls and young women aged 4-25 what they really care about and Future Girl was born. This is a manifesto built around topics that matter to girls and young women which inspire them to create change. With one of its key focuses being the environment, Girlguiding launched the #PlasticPromise campaign in 2019. This saw 113,668 people pledge to reduce plastic waste in their lives, leading this to become the biggest ever girl-led campaign to tackle plastic pollution.
There is power in young people. It is our future. We can make a difference. Small ripples will create big waves. Reduce your plastic consumption: use a refillable water bottle, bring reusable cutlery when you go out, keep a jute bag handy and try to buy food with the least amount of packaging such as loose fruit and vegetables – or why not try to grow your own? Reduce your carbon footprint by lift sharing, walking/cycling where possible, unplugging electrical appliances when not in use and swapping old incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lamp lightbulbs (CFL) as they use 75 per cent less energy whilst giving the same amount of light and lasting ten times as long.
Imagine climate change is a bear in the woods – make the trail you leave and the impact you have on the earth as minute as possible so that it can’t follow you. Most importantly, you can inspire others around you to do the same.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in 1988, but we know scientists were talking about global warming years before. The Scottish Government passed the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) in 2019, which amends the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. This legislation sets targets to reduce Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045. The plan is ambitious and aims to get to net zero five years earlier than the global goal of 2050. With a focus on the principles of a Just Transition and social engagement, the real question is: will these measures be enough? A net zero carbon future is possible with current technology and lifestyle change, but only if well-crafted policies to reduce greenhouse gases are introduced now. Time is of the essence if we are to tackle it. There can be no further delay.
My message to world leaders on Earth Day 2020 is this: there is no more time. No warm-ups, no delays. The race against climate change must start now or we lose our Earth. Act with your nation’s children and their children in mind. We must move together, now, today. Forests are burning, land is flooding, 53 per cent of wildlife has been killed in half a century and there is no planet B. We are bringing about the apocalypse with every second we wait. How many more agonies does there have to be before you wake up? We’re ready, are you?
I want young people to know that this is our world. Our future, our homes, our lives. We have to raise our voices as one if we are to be heard. If you are laughed at, laugh back harder. This is not a fight that we should have to face and yet we must. Don’t be drowned out, stand tall and have your say in the crafting of the new world. You are so very important.
Planet Earth. Our home. It’s time we stopped being the messy lodgers. Let’s tidy up our mess.
Grace McCabe, 16, is a Girlguiding Scotland Speak Out Champion and a member of the 1st Strathaven Rangers.