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Blog Twenty-Two: 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

Blog Twenty-One: 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:

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

Blog Twenty: Welcoming the YLDP 2017-18

April 28th, 2017 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

Last night I had the honour of launching the 2nd year of the 2050 Climate Group’s Young Leaders Development Programme at the ECCI in Edinburgh alongside Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform,  Roseanna Cunningham MSP. To see a room filled with well over 100 young professionals from across Scotland and across various sectors was extremely exciting. The recruitment process this year was incredibly competitive with demand ever increasing, surely Scotland is in a very strong position moving forward with this kind of interest in a climate change leadership course.

My name is Richard Dryburgh, I’m lucky enough to be the new Chair of the 2050 Climate Group. This is a position I’ve held for around two weeks now so I’m still learning the ropes. I’ve recently been passed the baton from Elizabeth Dirth and vice chairs Mike and Chris, who have done an amazing job over the last year or so.

So who are the 2050 Climate Group?

For those who don’t know, we formed in 2014 and are a group of young professionals and students from across Scotland’s public, private and third sectors. Our aim is to engage, educate and empower future leaders to take action on climate change. We have a board of around 25 and recently took on 40 new operational team members to help us deliver our work. I should stress that we are all volunteers, we have one member of staff who keeps us all in check, but we are all working on this is because we care and all work is done in our own time.

Our main piece of work is our Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP). Bringing talented and passionate young people together to work on their leadership skills whilst developing knowledge of climate change solutions – this enables a strong network of 2050 leaders across Scottish society that mainstreams climate action within our generation and indeed all generations. Alongside our YLDP, we also have a team working on keeping our alumni engaged and connected. The idea being here that in 4 or 5 years time we will have a network of over 500 2050 Graduates who can all work together and speak up for climate action within their own spheres of influence. We also have a policy team which feeds into national and international policy to give a voice to our network and to our generation. Finally, we have a communications team who help keep all of us connected, but also share our work externally. So there is lots going on!

Members of the 2050 Climate Group with Roseanna Cunnigham MSP (Pictured L to R: Ben Taylor, David Hogg, Rebecca DeVivo, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Richard Dryburgh, Jamie Wylie, Karen Cornfield)

The reason why we are all here doing this? Climate Change.

Climate Change is a huge global issue which often seems impossible to tackle, impossible to conceptualise and impossible to deal with. At the induction last night, I played this short video made by the UN and narrated by Morgan Freeman which outlines an alternative future for the planet. . I wanted to quickly touch on a few points raised at the end of the video which are particularly relevant.

  1. Beyond our doubts and differences, such a future does exist. We don’t know all the solutions to climate change, but we know a lot of them. This future will happen, it has to. By the year 2050, transformational change will have happened across Scotland and the world. Because it has to.
  2. We must stop getting stuck in the doom and gloom and instead turn towards the partnerships and solutions we need.

We must turn apathy into action. To do this, we need to stop debating the science and instead focus on debating the solutions. In terms of positive success stories, I’m not sure how many of you have seen the viral video by ATTN on Facebook? The one that shows Scotland leading the way on renewable energy. Although there is lots of bagpipes and Scottish stereotypes in the video, it shows Scottish leadership in a positive light and has clearly engaged a mass audience, with over 20 million views and 250,000 shares. If we focus on positive solutions and success stories such as this, we are moving in the right direction.

And the YLDP is certainly one of those success stories, large groups of young people from across society, getting together on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings to become climate leaders. The potential of this group really has no ceiling and I hope this year’s young leaders will be able to look back at this opportunity in a few years time and say I was there at the beginning of that movement.

We are lucky in Scotland to have politicians who have given climate action a high priority across all parties. But we still need to speak up and give a voice to our generation. It is incredibly important that climate change, as an issue that will largely affect our generation, is worked on with solutions and politics that are inclusive of our generation.

There is a lot of people on our side, not least our partners. Young Scot and ECCI continue to support us as do Scottish Water, ScottishPower Foundation, SEPA & The Scottish Government.

Without them we simply wouldn’t be able to function, so we are tremendously grateful.


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