COP26 was heralded as our one last chance to save humanity from the devastation of climate change. The last roll of the dice. Global leaders arrived and left. Promises were made and there was plenty of talk. If I’m honest, I’m left with a sense of emptiness at the apathy that has so quickly set-in among the public discourse.
But at Fuel Change we are also fiercely determined to join others keen to be brought to account for delivering on the ‘big talk’ from last November.
Our organisation is called Fuel Change for a reason. Fuel Change believes in engaging young people at the leading edge of the Climate fight as the ignition for change. We ‘hit the road’ at COP26 with a series of events where the voices of youth dominated.
We’re now calling on all of Scotland to come together again to reaffirm what COP-26 meant and what the plan is. Let’s fill the vacuum and be ‘streetwise’ about it!
The reality for the majority of young people is genuinely misunderstood.
When we started Fuel Change in 2020, we thought young people were ‘on it’, engaged and desperate for a platform to do something about the climate crisis.
We actually found only a thin slice, maybe 10%, of our young people were indeed on it, with the next 20% keen to do something but didn’t know how. The rest, whilst aware, believe this is someone else’s problem, which should be fixed, but are totally disengaged.
A feeling of hopelessness, that it’s far too late and what do melting glaciers, floods and bushfires have to do with me anyway, is the reality for many young people.
Many businesses are already doing great work and are putting plans in place to reach Net Zero. A constant commentary from businesses is the inertia in their organisations to embrace these plans and also that climate change actions will add cost for apparently no benefit.
The reality is we need to help make businesses better and we have demonstrated this can be done by galvanising the talent of tomorrow to create a bottom-up movement.
Our approach is two-fold. For the longer term, we are focused on working with a series of partners to develop and deliver proper education around climate change, infused into the curriculum of schools to change and mould behaviours before they become ingrained.
For the near term, we have experienced that to fully engage the next generation we need to involve them in creating the solutions – this is their future. We do this through a series of challenges, which task teams of 16 to 24-year-olds to come up with creative solutions to specific real-life issues set by industry, ranging from carbon capture and reducing emissions to creating sustainable fashion and food production.
Fuel Change is working with both global corporates and SMEs to engage their next generation of employees through this programme with outstanding results.
This approach of education, engagement and empowerment has resulted in hundreds of young people creating real hope and has sparked innovation which they then carry back to their own organisations.
Armed with this engagement they are demonstrably driving the Net Zero plans of their companies, as well as nurturing a feeling of hope for the future.
Any culture change programme needs to be top-down policy and bottom-up driven. With your young people genuinely engaged, not only will they find great solutions, but they will also drive your commitment to sustainability.
This engagement creates confidence through new skills, and we seek to create better businesses, recognised as having credible sustainability plans, empowering its workforce resulting in the attraction and retention of talent.
To make a true difference we need to have ambition – that means every school, every workplace, everywhere.
This is our vision.
We call on others to stand ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with us to decide what the shared future looks like.
We’ve cleared-up after the big party, now comes action!
• For more information, visit https://fuelchange.co.uk/
David Reid is Chief Executive of Fuel Change