Posts by Comms

COP23: Outcomes for transport

December 7th, 2017 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

By Shona Rawlings, Assistant Transport Planner

Earlier this month saw the closing of the 23rd UNFCC Conference of Parties (or COP23) in Bonn, Germany. The event this year was hosted by Fiji and participating states were tasked with negotiating much of the rule book for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement for when it comes in to effect in 2020.

I travelled to Bonn with the 2050 Climate Group – a charity supporting young professionals in Scotland to lead the change to a low carbon economy. The conference was considered to have made slow but steady progress in supporting the Paris Agreement and there are several take away messages and themes for the transport sector.

Nationally Determined Contribtions

Data released by the European Environment Agency shows that transport remains Europe’s largest source of emissions and that this trend has risen for the third consecutive year. Despite falls in emissions from the energy generation, buildings and agriculture sectors, it seems we do not yet have a handle on controlling emissions from passenger transport and freight.

The Paris Agreement calls for global action to limit global temperature increases to ‘well below 2°C’ above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit this to 1.5°C. For this to happen the transport sector must reduce its global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 7.7 Gigatons (Gt)/year down to 2-3Gt/year by 2050.

Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and long-term strategies are considered key to ensuring this transition. In August 2016, 160 NDCs representing 187 countries had been submitted to the UNFCC, representing 96% of economy wide GHG emissions. Among those investigated, 75% explicitly identify the transport sector as a GHG mitigation source and a further 17% include transport as a component of the energy sector. However, whilst 63% of the NDCs propose transport mitigation measures, only 9% have a transport sector emission reduction target. Furthermore, the transport modes covered by NDCs are heavily skewed towards passenger transport with little consideration of freight. It is critical that transport is considered a significant source of GHG mitigation and that long-term strategies and targets are devised to support this.


Whilst the ratification of the Paris Agreement is a hugely significant achievement for all stakeholders, achieving its goals will still mean a global temperature increase of at least 1.5°C. We must be ready to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate on our towns, cities and infrastructure. It is unsurprising, then, that climate adaptation was another significant theme of COP23. For transport in the UK this means ensuring our passenger and freight transport is resilient and can cope with disruption to services by more frequent extreme weather events. Our infrastructure, community facilities and heritage assets must also be appropriately managed to withstand increased erosion and propensity to flooding. Notably this includes ports, airports, and ferry services which are arguably the most susceptible to changing weather conditions.

Non-State Action

Despite headlines in June this year that the USA Federal Government was hoping to ‘renegotiate’ the terms of the Paris Agreement it is clear there has never been greater engagement and participation of non-governmental stakeholders in climate change mitigation. COP23 recognised the importance of this and the opportunities for ‘cities and regions’ to show leadership and take action that goes above and beyond national policy. Here in the UK, we must be prepared to support devolved governments, local authorities, private sector and community groups manage this through new strategies, policies, and capacity for change. PBA has been proud to support the University of Glasgow in developing and implementing their Strategic Transport and Travel Plan. The Plan includes a number of measures to encourage sustainable transport on campus and achieve their ambitious targets of reducing emissions from fleet vehicles and international business air travel.

COP 23: Reflections

November 16th, 2017 Posted by Blogs, COP No Comment yet

2050 Climate Group team member,  Siri Pantzar, offers some reflections on time spent at COP 23 in Bonn, Germany this November. 


It is such a precious thing, this conference. People who are all passionate about climate change, discussing solutions, research, projects, and policies. Everyone is keen. Everyone is interested. Everyone is buzzing.

It’s a shame that that’s all pretty much restricted to this event though.

When we go home, we go back to the silence on climate change. Most people don’t talk about climate change in their everyday lives. People around us are concerned, but don’t voice it, don’t engage with it, and more often than not don’t see it as an immediate issue that they have to do something about in their own lives, or one that impacts them. It’s in the future, it’s those poor polar bears, it’s in the small island states and in Africa. While this motivates some people to buy clean energy, turn down the heating or vote for greener candidates, most people are more concerned about immediate issues (or ones they perceive as such): getting a job, paying their bills, getting food for your children, getting a mortgage. Climate change is indeed big and bad, but essentially something somewhere else, for somebody else with more time on their hands to do.

One of the things I’ve constantly been impressed with about 2050 Climate Group is how it really addresses this issue, through making climate change relevant for young professionals by bringing it to the sphere where we have to operate in. We might want to do something about climate change, but often focus instead on things that will pay our bills, add experience to our CVs, or build us networks. 2050 fits into that framework. It makes being a part of the global action against climate change useful and fun to us, in our own specific terms, together with other people like us.

Yesterday I attended a talk by George Marshall, and I realised how special and crucial that is. George Marshall is a climate change communicator and the founder of Climate Outreach, a non-profit research organisation supporting those that want to work on climate communications. He stresses that tailoring the message is crucial; too often we use the same polar bear and disaster images, too often the messages are tailored to us who are already keen and identify with the issue, not to those that are not. Especially as we see the global politics reaching points where major countries can elect leaders that don’t believe in climate change, we, as people who know that this should not be a partisan issue, should acknowledge that we have allowed it to become one. There are values that we all hold dear involved in promoting climate change action, but they are not the same values for those on the left, as for those on the centre right, or those in faith communities, or environmental activists, or coal worker communities, or British people or Finnish people or Chinese people. For some it’s a question of justice and planetary environment, and those messages get aired often; for others it’s about fairness, or working together, or bringing the world to balance, preserving our heritage, protecting the world that is a gift from God, or keeping champagne production possible in Champagne. Authenticity is key; we want to see people who are like us, and care about the same things as we do, tell us that we can work together to protect those things. That’s why we can’t leave talking about climate change to environmental activists; their messages are relevant for people like them, but then again, people like them are in most cases already engaged.

Most importantly, these conversations need to happen and continue to happen, outside this bubble. Often they aren’t easy; at least I often inherently assume that no-one else is interested and that I come across as nagging, which is unlikely to be true. We need to create space, and have conversations, and make spaces for conversations that are appealing and create communities. The 2050 Climate Group has provided that for many of us; now we need to continue to spread it out to everyone else.

Professional Network Opens New Doors for ‘Young’ Borderers

August 29th, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

Friday 25 August was the launch of the new Scottish Borders Young Professionals (SBYP). SBYP aim to provide social opportunities for those starting their professional careers in the Borders or reestablishing themselves in a new field.

Over 90% of businesses within the Borders are small and medium-sized enterprises, Economic Profile for the Scottish Borders, (2013). With a high proportion of sole traders and micro-businesses, socialising and professional collaboration can be more challenging.

This newly established group aims to provide a free social hub for those living and working in the local area.

SBYP Chairman and YLDP 2016-17 alum, Tim Taylor commented:

Due to the rurality and sparse population of the Scottish Borders it can be really difficult for those starting their professional career to develop and maintain those all-important relationships with their peers.

scottish borders young professionals

Young professionals at the SBYP launch event.

“Couple this with the fact that we have such a high amount of independently practicing professionals, and SME’s, there’s a high likelihood that those starting their career journey could end up working in solitude without sharing their fresh ideas, opinions and best practice.

“The group welcomes people not only young, but those who are in the early stages of establishing their professional career.”

SBYP Group Secretary and YLDP 2017-18 young leader, Kirsty Mills commented:

“We’re aiming to create a really inclusive group that’s open to anyone in the early stages of their career. We’ve already established a diverse community of members spanning industries including Law, Finance, Marketing etc.

 “Often people in the early stages of these career pathways have studied for 6 years or more at University or through professional accreditation. Establishing a professional career in the Borders is extremely rewarding but there’s a real need for easily accessible opportunities for people to build their professional contacts and develop friendships”.

“Whether you’re a first time graduate or someone with more life experience who’s starting a new path, we’d love to hear from you and let you know about SBYP events”.


More information about Scottish Borders Young Professionals can be found by visiting or by  emailing

For sponsorship opportunities please contact Mary Hemingway, SBYP Treasurer via

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Upcoming Events

December 2017
« Nov