Posts in YLDP

Guest Blog: Lara Fahey’s key learning points on politics and climate change

March 5th, 2018 Posted by Blogs, YLDP No Comment yet

Last month [January] I went to one of the 2050 Climate Group’s conferences in Edinburgh. The subject this time was politics, and how we can influence politicians to take action on climate change. We heard from many inspiring speakers including those that attended the COP 23 summit in Bonn late last year, a Canadian negotiator for the international climate agreement, an academic looking into the minds of politicians at Westminster, Adaptation Scotland, a representative from the Scottish Government and more.

From this conference I took several key messages away:

One: To not assume that you know it all.

Climate change affects different sectors and people in different, complicated ways. There is always more to learn. Also, the way that politicians might approach the topic varies, but the majority of politicians in Westminster believe in climate change and want to do something to help. Thus try not to talk down to anybody, politicians included. They are just ordinary people with feelings too.

 Two: Think about ‘co-benefits’ and language.

Some politicians (and people) are afraid to use the word ‘climate change’ when speaking to their constituents, as they are afraid that they might seem ‘weird’. Thus in order to get policies through the house, they may use ‘co-benefits’ as a way of selling action e.g. a new cycle path will be good for physical and mental health, air pollution worries, jobs, tourism etc. without actually mentioning the word ‘climate change’. It still gets the cycle path put in, but it is done because it is sold to their constituents and those in parliament in terms that matter to them most – health, jobs, the economy etc.

Three: Get in touch with your elected representative.

Politicians are not often asked to act on climate change from their constituents. Thus just writing an email or going to visit them in parliament will increase the number of times they are contacted about climate change/the environment significantly. It is easy to find out who is representing you, and what their contact details are, just click here. You can also find your Scottish representative here and your council representative here (if you live in Fife).

Four: Do something!

Getting involved in whatever capacity you can is very important. It is one of the greatest ways you can help change happen.

I am part of the 2017-18 Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP) run by the 2050 Climate Group. This was just one of many interesting climate conferences hosted by the 2050 Climate Group that I have been to. Half of the conference events held are public, so you do not need to have signed up to the development programme to go along. If you are interested in sustainability, are aged between 18 – 35, and will be based in Scotland as either a student, professional, or interested person, I highly recommend joining up to the programme – the next round of applications will be available soon. It is a great way to meet new people in all different sectors that are focussed on one thing: leading action on climate change. Action can be made on a personal, professional, and political level, and everything in between.

Source: Transition University of St Andrews


Lara Fahey is a young leader on this year’s Young Leaders Development Programme.

2050 YLDP: Low Carbon Holiday Special Recap

February 28th, 2016 Posted by Blogs, Newsletter, YLDP No Comment yet

On February 18
th, the 2050 Climate Group held an extra optional event as part of the Young Leaders Development Programme, hosted at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. The event was put on in response to feedback from Young Leaders about the overwhelming impact that flights have on their individual carbon footprints – on average 38% of Young Leaders’ emissions over the last year came from flights – and aimed to provide both the information needed to address these emissions, and the inspiration needed to actually make the necessary changes.

The 3 hour evening event was made up of an initial hour of keynote speakers talking about the environmental impact of our travel and the inspirational stories of what can happen when you choose not to fly, including Dr Kate Rawles, author of The Carbon Cycle, and Mark Smith, founder of the world famous website

This was followed by a breakout session where attendees split into small group and imagined a world in 2050 where flying was prohibited, and then we worked backwards to find what changes need to happen now to work towards this future. We also talked about what attendees value in their holidays, and if these values can be reconciled with taking low carbon holidays.

The event was finished off by a networking drinks reception combined with a Sustainable Travel Fair, with 5 organisations promoting the opportunities for local holidays within Scotland. 

Read a full recap here

2050 YLDP: Energy & Transport Module Recap

February 7th, 2016 Posted by Blogs, YLDP No Comment yet

Shona Rawlings pictured with Chris Palmer (left) and Chris McGinnis (right)

January 30th was the first climate module of 2016’s Young Leaders Development Programme, hosted at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology & Innovation Centre in Glasgow. The day gave a broad view of the energy and transport sector and some of the many challenges of transitioning to a low carbon future. In the morning, keynote speakers gave a short lecture on energy production and climate change, energy in the built and environment, and transport and climate change – and in the afternoon delegates were given the opportunity to apply some of this knowledge in a more practical setting during the break out sessions. We’ve summarised all the sessions below as a reference guide and have been granted permission by the speakers to share their presentation slides. I hope the materials are useful and delegates gained as much from the event as I did! – Shona



Catriona Patterson – 2050 Climate Group

Catriona welcomed the YLDP-ers to the first core element of the programme, focusing on Energy and Transport. Energy and transport account for around 60% of personal carbon emissions so they are a key topic for the YLDP. Catriona reminded everyone to tweet vociferously using #2050startsnow, and thanked our speakers for the day, and the supporters of 2050.

Phil Duffield – Scottish Power Foundation

Phil Duffield spoke to announce that the Scottish Power Foundation are delighted to support the YLDP. He feels the YLDP is well aligned with the values of SPF, which focuses on education and the environment when choosing projects to support. He said the YLDP was an opportunity to discuss, debate and develop skills – to look at how the YLDP can make an impact.



Dr Andy Kerr – Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change
Energy & Climate Change

E&T 12The first main speaker, Dr Andy Kerr, spoke to the YLDP about ‘Energy Production & Climate Change’. He said that energy is one of the greatest challenges we face, and that energy is everything – not just electricity!

Oil is still the biggest fuel energy source used around the world. In 1970, 80% of the world’s energy came from fossil fuels, and in 2010, this was still the case, though energy consumption has grown 40% in that time.

Dr Kerr presented the ‘energy trilemma’ – of energy security, environmental sustainability and equity / affordability. He discussed the issues with access to energy, which is a major concern in some parts of the world.

There are positives; the UK Government is to shut all coal power stations by 2025. However, there has been a focus on how to generate electricity. Only now we are seeing a focus on the efficiency of use. Scotland is on track to meet the 42% reduction targets (though we’ve missed some of the annual targets). In Paris, 195 countries signed up to say no to greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century. But nobody has all the answers!

To achieve our 2050 emission reduction targets, gas cannot be part of the mix and currently we use a lot of gas for heating (space and hot water). Petrol and diesel cars can also not exist in 2050 if we are to meet our targets.

This is where 2050 and the YLDP come in – though Scotland has emission reduction policies, disruptive innovation will be required to meet our tough targets. No country has a solution for reducing emission by 3% per year – which is what is required.

Scotland has all the things we need (renewable energy resources, engaged Government) yet even we are finding it difficult. Looking at a short term fix is not the solution. People must be at the heart of the solution, behaviour change is key. Radical changes will happen in the lives of the YLDP.

Prof Sue Roaf – Heriot Watt University

Energy in the Built Environment

E&T 11Professor Sue Roaf gave her ‘windows and clouds’ lecture.

Professor Roaf gave an overview of the history of buildings. Now we seem to be constructing buildings which require a lot of energy to run, and seem to have a ‘love’ of air-conditioning. We know how to design highly efficient buildings, with zero emissions, but there are barriers to doing so.

European legislation, the Building Performance Directive, states that EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) must be produced for buildings when sold or let. The standard performance method to gauge performance, compares buildings with others of the same type – it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are efficient in comparison to all building types.

Another concern is that citizens are not part of the lobbying process.

The legislation promotes products and machines and improving their efficiency, rather than the building fabric or the people who live and work in the buildings.

Different movements have come and gone to try and improve the performance of buildings:

  • 1990’s Passive House – tight construction with MVHR (mechanical ventilation) – prone to overheating
  • 2000’s wider consideration of sustainability and the Code for Sustainable Homes

Radical approaches are now required, particularly to contend with overheating concerns that have become more prevalent. A freak heatwave in 2003, in which thousands of people died across Europe due to overheating in homes, will become every second summer by 2050, and will be considered ‘cool’ by 2080. Climate resilient and climate safe buildings are required. Some modern buildings are like slow cookers – too much glazing and insulation.

Buildings of the future should be climate ready, and climatically appropriate. They should not necessarily focus on technology, but should consider form, orientation, height and shading. Building regulations will need to be updated to accommodate this.

Behaviour change is also needed; a change to heating your personal space, rather than a whole house or whole room. Personal Energy Technologies (PETs) help to heat the immediate space, and create comfortable temperatures (which are different for everyone).


Dr Neil Ferguson – University of Strathclyde
Transport and Climate Change

DSC_0101The car dominates in the UK. Peak car use was in 2007, it reduced during the recession, but now appears to be increasing again. Car use is decreasing among young adults, partly due to the trend of living in cities, and partly due to the cost of driving, licenses and insurance.

Men tend to drive more, but this is also reducing. Women historically have driven less, but overall women are now driving more.

Leisure travel accounts for a significant proportion of personal transport use. 238million domestic air traffic movements occurred in 2014. Though there has been a reduction in petrol use, there has been an increase in diesel use. Diesel is more efficient, but causes greater local air pollution than petrol.

Transport is the second highest source of UK emissions.  There needs to be coherence across the board with regards to policy. Dr Ferguson suggested the YLDP should look at the National Transport Strategy which has recently been refreshed, and the Low Carbon Scotland document.

There are a number of politically unpopular solutions:

  • Road pricing / congestion charging
  • Air passenger duty changes.

Infrastructure upgrades need to be climatically resilient. Future transport planning should improve connectivity – but we have to consider the impact this has on spatial separation and density of settlements.

[Notes by Katy Hunter] 


2050 Energy & Transport Mix

With only an hour for groups of 5-8 to brainstorm solutions for decarbonising the energy and transport sector by 2050, the energy in the round-table discussions was electric. Dozens of ideas were discussed, many of which were captured in a group effort, ranging from immediately implementable behavioural solutions, to medium-term urban planning and policy solutions, through to fantastical and imaginative ‘free-energy-for-all by 2050” solutions.

[Notes by Dave Townsend]










Home Energy Scotland

Aiden Tracey talked the group through the work carried out by HES and talked about tools for engaging day to day with the public, communities and businesses. We then broke into groups and explored ideas of how to make a difference on a personal, local and national scale, challenges that we might face and how to overcome these. Some of the Young Leaders came up with ideas on how they could use existing groups (for example local Facebook groups, buy/swap/sell groups) to discuss opportunities in the community to improve energy efficiency in homes. We also discussed creating networks within work places to drive energy efficiency and thought about what tools and resources we would need to implement this.

Finally we discussed our vision for 2050 home energy; fuel poverty should be irradiated, this is a continual issue that will require us to keep innovating and finding new ideas

[Notes by Jane Morrison]


Sustrans – Making the Case for Low Carbon Transport

Sustrans is a UK charity aimed at enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys they make every day. There are more people living in urban environments than ever before; planners and councils can’t just keep building roads, they need to find more innovative low carbon methods to enable people to get around.

Activity 1 was a breakout session where we separated into three groups of 7 and looked at the transportation system in Bogota, placemaking in NYC and health in Copenhagen.

Link to the TedX video on everyday leadership. Very effective, worth checking out:

Discussion by delegates focused on several points. Public transport should be competitive with car use, in terms of time and money but there was also the recognition of other benefits like being able to read and enjoy leisure activities in transit. Public ownership of transport was deemed important and that accesible public transport facilitates can increase sociable equality – there is a lower barrier to access work and socialising is a car is unnecessary. Finally promoting health benefits should be a key message of active travel – this mode of transport is being normalised in lots of countries but not yet in Scotland.

Activity 2: effective sustainability and behaviour change conversations. Spilt into groups of three and each picked a role: A champion who is trying to influence behaviour change, an individual who the champion is trying to influence and an observer who will give feedback on the influencing methods used. My scenario was that the individual was a member of a social group who meet once a month to go to art related events. Someone would drive and pick everyone else up along the way at their houses. The champion is trying to get them to use a more sustainable transport method. The activity had lots of different scenarios, all aimed at having effective sustainability conversations and digging deeper into the reasons for people’s behaviour and how to influence them effectively. There was a sheet for each group to use as a guide with some information about the different approached people tend to use; some good, some ineffective.

[Notes by Sarah Dowling and Mike Elm]


Dr Jelte Harnmeijer – Scene Consulting & Community Energy

Jelte began his career as an academic studying geology and found his way into studying climatDSC_0200e and energy because of his experience of see in the glaciers in Greenland melting first hand, year on year. He is an academic, but also runs a community energy consultancy that helps communities develop and implement community renewables.

The workshop emphasised both the benefits in terms of climate change and renewable energy deployment of community renewables, but also the co-benefits of them, and explained that these two sets of benefits cannot be isolated because it is the range of selling points that make them attractive. He also highlighted the fact that Scotland is tremendously under-utilising its renewable potential.  He compared the percentage of community renewables in northern Europe (Germany & Denmark) to that of Scotland to demonstrate this, pointing out that the projects that fill the grid mix in these countries wouldn’t get planning approval in Scotland and that Scotland isn’t building opportunities that are many many times better than those in these other places.  The priority and urgency placed on these seems to be the difference, because actually there is more renewable potential in Scotland than these other countries.

Jelte answered many detailed questions about the affordability, efficiency, scale, and business cases.

[Notes by Elizabeth Dirth]


Thank you to all of our funders and supporters, to the attendees and the speakers for helping make this day such a success!

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