Richard joined 2050 Climate Group’s team in August 2015 before the first Young Leaders Development Programme was launched, and became Chair in April 2017. He managed this role alongside working full time at Changeworks Recycling, and is now moving on to a job with the Scottish Government. Richard has seen and supported 2050 Climate Group through huge developments and will be greatly missed by the whole team.
After over three amazing years as part of 2050 Climate Group, with the latter half of that time spent as Chair of our Board, I am now stepping down from the organisation for a new adventure. It has been a very hard decision to leave such an inspiring organisation, especially at such a pivotal time, but I’ve no doubt that the charity will continue to thrive under the leadership of our new Chair, Catriona Patterson.
Over my time here I’ve had the opportunity to do some amazing things: I’ve been to COP21 in Paris, I’ve helped launched our Young Leaders Development Programme, I’ve spoken to royalty, climate change royalty and many influential people, I’ve helped transition our organisation to formal charity status and all whilst seeing our charity grow and grow.
As my time has come to an end, I thought I’d scribble down some reflections on some of the many things I’ve learnt along the way. And as the stereotypical millennial that I am, I thought I’d use the medium of GIF – Queer Eye GIFs no less – to express these learnings.
1- Youth Empowerment is everything.
As JVN says best, this one might seem basic but when I first joined the charity, the concept of young people having an equal seat at the table on climate change policy and discussions felt distant and intimidating. I guess those views stemmed from an ingrained status quo where experienced, senior ‘experts’ dominate the top table. But what I’ve seen over my time with 2050 Climate Group is that young people have a lot to say, not just on climate change but on all issues and absolutely should be listened to especially when the topic has a huge impact on their future (which it so often does!).
Recently, I’ve become a passionate supporter of young people becoming charity trustees as I’ve seen firsthand what a big difference it can make both to the individual and the organisation. As a young professional, I now believe becoming a charity trustee is one of the single biggest personal development opportunities out there.
But going back to climate change, it is imperative that young people gain a role of growing importance when we are looking at global, national and local solutions as it us who are going to have to pay for inaction or misaction. So I’m afraid senior people, it is act now or step aside.
2- Positive solutions will help us beat climate change
I get it, climate change can be pretty scary and negative. The sheer scale of the challenge can often get you down. And I get it that on a global scale, governments and business are not yet doing enough. But there are some amazing things happening all over the world that we should celebrate. These successes give hope that we can create a new normal in every sector of society, successes which can create multiple benefits beyond just the environmental. Because the solutions are laid out in front of us, we just need to normalise them. 2050 Climate Group is a great, positive example of climate action which I hope we will see replicated again and again. By being part of this positive network of climate action, I have a new, optimistic perspective and it is clear to me that hope overcomes fear on climate action.
3- Making volunteering social makes you want to do it
Over the last 3 years or so, I’ve spent a large portion of my non-work time volunteering for 2050 Climate Group. Many people including my friends, parents and partner have often asked me if I was spending too much time volunteering. My answer was always “No”, because from day one, my ‘2050 work’ has never really felt like work because of a) how passionate I felt about our work, but also b) I enjoyed doing the work and working with my fellow volunteers, who soon became close friends. So my advice to anyone looking to volunteer on anything is, find a group of people that you enjoy spending time with – it makes the world of difference.
4- Surround yourself with inspiring people and good things will happen
This is where I get a bit emosh. The people I’ve been lucky enough to work with at 2050 Climate Group have inspired me everyday to be better. We all have a shared purpose to try and do something about climate change but everyone comes at it from a slightly different place. I knew from day one that it was a special group of people but as our numbers and network have grown to over 400 young leaders I’ve seen firsthand the power of a strong network. It is these networks and wider collaborations that are going to make a difference in terms of climate change because we aren’t going to be able to conquer it alone, as much as we would like to. So find yourself an inspiring group of friends and contacts – I can assure you if you surround yourself with good people, it will only help you and encourage you to raise your own game.
So they are my small nuggets of wisdom from my time at 2050 Climate Group. I just want to end by thanking all of the volunteers, staff and partners of our charity whom we wouldn’t be able to exist without. The more I’ve worked at 2050 Climate Group the more I’ve seen how important this work is in tackling climate change. An engaged, educated and empowered generation of young leaders is a formidable prospect and I look forward to seeing this generation grow and develop over the coming years.