Monthly Archives: May, 2017

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Food for Thought

May 31st, 2017 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet
photo of natalie

Young Leader, Natalie Sweeney

We need to lower our carbon footprint! This is something that we hear a lot, but what does it mean and how do we do it? Our carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the actions we take, writes Natalie Sweeney. This includes everything from commuting to work, the food we eat and the things we buy. The footprint is calculated by adding up all the carbon emissions into the atmosphere from every single stage of an action. For example buying a tomato which starts with growing, transport to shop, cooking into the meal it’s being used in etc. I have recently started being a young leader for the 2050 Climate Group which is an organisation that runs a young leaders development programme to raise awareness about and action against climate change. This has been really useful in understanding how we can make small, personal actions to lower out carbon footprint.

Food alone is responsible for 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions and the rising population means that food demand is also rising. The higher income a household has tends to mean a higher demand for animal products such as meat and dairy which have a higher carbon footprint than most food because the growing and preparation of it produces a lot of emissions. We can lower this by buying seasonal foods, even if they are not grown in this country. Often we may be put off to see foods in our supermarkets that are grown from another country rather than the UK but actually, as long as the food is in season and is transported slowly to this country i.e. by ship rather than plane, then the carbon footprint of the food is actually very low. What we can do to lower our carbon footprint with food is to eat seasonal food, avoid unnecessary packaging, recycle packaging, eat less meat and dairy and buy food with a shorter shelf life if you know you’ll be eating it that day anyway rather than reaching for the food at the back. These are obvious and simple little things that make a big difference.

It isn’t all about reducing our carbon footprint, it is also about improving our carbon handprint. The handprint is how much we have saved or counteracted any negative actions. We can start growing some of our own fruit and veg, planting a tree, taking the car one less journey a week. Small actions are what make the biggest difference.

I have focused on small, personal actions even though the problem of climate change is far bigger than any of us. This is because we cannot always control what others do, or businesses, government and law, but we can change things that we can control. We can be more aware of how our actions affect the planet and read up on how we can make a difference.

This post comes from YLDP 2017 young leader, Natalie Sweeney.

Taken from Largs and Millport Weekly News.

National Economic Forum 2017

May 19th, 2017 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

Last Friday, as our new cohort of Young Leaders prepared to travel to Glasgow for the first climate change module of this year’s Young Leaders Development Programme, I stayed up in the Highlands for the National Economic Forum and travelled up to a sunny Inverness.

The event kicked off with an opening address from Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and a business keynote address from Mark Gregory, chief economist at Ernst & Young, followed by a Q&A session with the both of them. As most likely the youngest person in attendance, it was great to represent all of the Young Leaders in the 2050 Climate Group, and to be able to ask the First Minister a question regarding some of the issues that are important to the group as a whole:

“How will the government ensure that the Circular Economy package will deliver skilled employment opportunities throughout the whole of Scotland?

How will the Curriculum for Excellence prepare the next generation for employment within the Circular Economy?”

Declan asking his questions (Photo from @Aurora_Cons)

The First Minister feels there is a massive opportunity for skilled jobs in the Circular Economy across the whole of Scotland, particularly in rural areas, and Mark Gregory pointed out that already, directly and indirectly, there are 50,000 jobs in Scotland engaged in lowering carbon emissions.

The point about the Curriculum for Excellence was one that the First Minister thought was the most important. With a school system able to produce confident and informed individuals, well prepared for careers in the Circular Economy in the future.

After lunch, I participated in a workshop about the future of energy in Scotland, led by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, and Nick Molho, Executive Director at Aldersgate Group. With so many people in the room from the energy industry it was great to hear their thoughts on the draft Scottish Energy Strategy, and the ambitious plans for renewables and low carbon energy sources to play their part in Scotland reaching its emissions reduction targets as set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, which requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the Scottish economy between 1990 and 2050.

My biggest takeaway from the whole event, and the one aspect that fills me with the most positivity, is this: they didn’t postpone it! Let me explain. The date for this 18th edition of the National Economic Forum was set a while back, and this time of year was expected to be a quiet one for Scotland politically. In hindsight, they couldn’t have been more wrong! Despite the event taking place during the run up to a general election, they didn’t postpone it. Instead, the First Minister and 5 MSPs were in attendance, including Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, who kindly spoke at the launch event of this year’s Young Leaders Development Programme. The government saw these economic discussions as vital, and that it was key for the drive towards a low carbon economy to be at the centre of these discussions. This clear demonstration of commitment towards the sustainable development goals, in the midst of a hectic political period, I believe, can give us hope that our ambitions for 2050 will be met.
Blog contributed by: Declan Gallacher. 2050 Climate Group, Operational Team Member: YLDP & Alumni Subgroups
Header photo submitted by Declan, @DeclanGallager
waiting for climate change isaac cordal sculpture

Climate change isn’t the future, it’s right now

May 18th, 2017 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

The European Climate Change Adaptation conference comes to Glasgow:

 

“Climate change? We don’t need to worry about that yet. There are more urgent things we need to sort first.” Many of us will have heard this kind of response when raising the issue of climate change. I know I have. And the framing of our climate problem as a long term challenge is often shared by advocates of climate action and those aiming to defend the status quo alike – with the former appealing to our responsibility to future generations and the latter arguing we shouldn’t take action because the future is too uncertain. But the truth is, as many of us know, climate change has already started and its impacts are already ruining people’s lives around the world.

Huge rivers are disappearing in Northern Canada as glaciers recede, roads are melting in India, and even if we stopped all global greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, those we’ve already released into our atmosphere would continue to drive climate change for many years to come. So, as we continue with efforts to reduce the worst effects of climate change, the question arises: what do we do about the impacts we have already set in motion?

This is the question over 1000 of the world’s top climate experts will be looking to answer as they arrive in Glasgow in June for the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference. The conference title may say ‘European’ but the focus is global, with presenters from forty-eight countries and five continents tackling problems from sinking cities to dangerous heat waves to disruption to the food systems we all rely on. The 2050 Climate Group will be involved too, with 2050 rapporteurs and our former chair, Elizabeth Dirth, joining the closing plenary with the European Commission’s Head of Climate Action, Andrea Tilche, and the New York City Mayor’s Office Special Advisor on Climate Policy and Programs, Lolita Jackson.

You can follow all the action across the five days of the conference (5-9 June) via the hashtag #ECCA2017 and students can still apply for volunteer passes to attend in person, helping Scotland continue to lead the way in effective climate action.

And I’ll be there too. In my role as Information Support Officer for the Adaptation Scotland programme, I’ll be joining colleagues in showcasing the progress Scotland is making to become a climate ready nation. Large-scale initiatives are already underway in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow to ensure Scotland’s population, infrastructure and economy is prepared for the turbulent times that may be ahead and there are lots of opportunities for 2050 young leaders to influence Scotland’s adaptation journey, either as part of your organisations or as active citizens in the places you live. I believe, coupled with the strongest efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change adaptation can be a catalyst to help us build a positive vision of the future: one where we don’t just swap dirty technology for clean (although that’s a great start), but instead change the places we live and work, and our behaviour in them, to follow the grain of natural forces. You can see examples of these kinds of transformations in Adaptation Scotland’s Climate Ready Places website. If you’d like help finding out more about the likely climate impacts on Scotland, how they might affect you or your organisation, and what you can do about it, let me know!

 

Blog contributed by David Macpherson, YLDP 2015-16. Information Support Officer, Sniffer

Contact David: David@sniffer.org.uk

Image: Follow the Leaders. Berlin, Germany. 2011. Isaac Cordal

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