Posts tagged " cop21 "

Christiana Figueres and Catriona Patterson

Selfies with Christiana Figueres: Climate Change, Leadership and Young People

April 12th, 2019 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

Catriona Patterson, Chair of the Board of 2050 Climate Group, shares her reflections on the role of youth leadership on climate change, after a week which saw Edinburgh host both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Christiana Figueres.

I’m generally not one for selfies. So it was a surprise to me for many reasons when I found myself taking a selfie with Christiana Figueres last Friday afternoon.

Christiana Figueres is arguably the climate heroine of our present. Lauded as the individual who made the 2015 UN COP Paris Agreement possible, she is a tour-de-force of climate commitment, optimism and encouragement. As the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), she presided over the first international binding commitment on greenhouse gas emissions made by world nations…ever.

Visiting Scotland to collect the Edinburgh Medal (awarded each year by the City of Edinburgh to a person of science and technology who is judged to have made a ‘significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity’) at the Edinburgh Science Festival, Figueres often talks of challenging what we consider to be ‘feasible’ (a point particularly pertinent as Scotland discusses the level of ambition of our new Climate Change Bill), and seeing climate action as the biggest opportunity we have ever had. It is not hyperbole to cite her as inspirational: she needed to be in order to force international agreement.

2050 Climate Group was invited to participate in a roundtable of public, private and third sector leaders with Figueres during her visit to Edinburgh. Knowingly and obviously one of the youngest in the room, I was thrilled when she related her opening provocation – around rightful civic outrage, and radical optimism in the face of climate change – to the recent climate school strikes, and commended the actions of young people concerned about their future.

Days before, I had represented 2050 Climate Group as part of the ClimateXChange event ‘Climate Change Action in Small States’, taking place in the week that Edinburgh hosted a meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sitting on a panel between hugely knowledgeable climate change scientists and policy makers, I was aware I stood out. I am not responsible for regional emissions figures or target reports, and the IPCC has been around longer than I have been alive. But in talking about the unique approach of our charity, and how it connects with the knowledge and political processes which structures climate change action, I am consistently excited and proud of what we achieve, and inspired to do more.

Young people are often-quoted as the motivators for decision making on climate change, yet rarely are they given the genuine opportunity to shape that future. At 2050 Climate Group we are committed to ensuring our generation are prepared with the knowledge of climate change and its impacts that they need for their personal, professional and civic lives, but also have the skills to influence those around them, the network to support them, and crucially, the opportunities to empower them with the agency to effect change.

Being invited to participate in these two events – speaking alongside climate heroes from research and policy – is for me an example of how young people are beginning to be recognised for the role they play, and should play, in climate change leadership. The school strikes inspired by the climate activism of teenager Greta Thunberg have recently demonstrated the depth of feeling of young people at the very ‘young’ end of the youth spectrum, but at 2050 Climate Group we have a generation of young adults already participating in our society and economy, and arguably one step closer to challenging the causes of climate change and dealing with its impacts.

It can be easy to dismiss young people, and the methods and tools we use to effect change. Selfies may be chastised for a variety of reasons, but for me, this image is not (just) narcissism, it’s evidence: a demonstration and a reminder that youth leadership is recognised, valued, and necessary.

2050 Climate Group is looking for new partners from all aspects of Scotland’s public, private and third sectors, and is interested to hear from those looking to engage, educate and empower future leaders within their organisations and across wider society to take action on climate change. If you are interested in discussing opportunities to work with us, please get in touch with


The Road to Paris COP21

December 1st, 2015 Posted by Blogs, COP No Comment yet

Elizabeth Dirth shares her story about her “Road to Paris.”

Chris McGinnis and Elizabeth Dirth cycling to Paris

Chris McGinnis and Elizabeth Dirth cycling to Paris

In some ways, my road to Paris started when I was 15.  When I decided that the only possible career option for me was working on the challenges and threats to the world and all the people on it.

I didn’t know then that this challenge would be climate change, but as anyone who has worked on this issue will know, once you lift up the rock and see what’s underneath, you can’t really go back.  You can’t move on to anything else.  It’s like falling down and getting stuck in the rabbit hole in Alice In Wonderland, and I’m way way down the rabbit hole.

But I won’t start there.  More specifically, my road to Paris started in June 2014 when I joined the 2050 Climate Group.

Before I joined the group, I was working in sustainability and I knew about the UN’s work.  I knew about the failure of the negotiations in Copenhagen.  I understood the urgency.  But I didn’t really know why the UN agreement mattered, what it actually meant, what it had the potential to mean, how it worked, and why it was so damn difficult to make one.

Before the 2050 group, I had worked on community-scale climate change work.  I think its safe to say that the decision to join the group will forever be one of the most defining moments of my professional life.

Most recently, my road to Paris involved a marathon of work:  running Scotland’s first public consultation on climate change that gathered the views of people on the negotiations and climate change issues; publishing and presenting this work to the Scottish Government and the general public; playing a role in organising Scotland’s Climate March, travelling by train from the climate march to France to join Iberdrola in their #just2challenge campaign to raise awareness about the COP; cycling 123kilometres with this team on their final leg towards Paris; and then arriving in Paris tomorrow.  My road to Paris involved cycling, marching, train rides, public consultation, engaging with new audiences, campaigning, and a whole lot of teamwork and collaboration.

Rewinding a bit more than that, my road to Paris was paved by the pace of growing momentum for the 2050 Climate Group has been immense. From Scotland’s First Youth Climate Summit, to the launch of our Young Leaders Development Programme; from speaking at conferences and events around the country, to building relationships with funders, partners, government, and now the international community, our movement is growing.

For me, everything we do is about the mission, the end goal.  And so, the most important part of our movement growing momentum is the way that it contributes to the global momentum around climate action right now.


Today, Monday the 30th of November, climate change is a headline issue, and I’m very proud of the role that the 2050 Climate Group has played in this, even if on a global scale it is small.  I can’t speak for tomorrow, or for the results of the COP, or after the COP, but I do believe on some level the whole world is looking under that same rock that I did ten years ago right now, and things will never be the same.



Shona, Sustrans & Paris

November 27th, 2015 Posted by Blogs, COP No Comment yet
Shona Rawlings

Shona Rawlings

This December I’ll be travelling to Paris with fellow members of the 2050 Climate Group, a collection of young professionals from across Scotland who share a commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and accelerating Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy.

The group is presenting a session at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) about engaging the next generation of leaders on climate action, but before this I’ll be marching on home turf in Edinburgh to call for a strong agreement and action on climate change mitigation both here and on an international platform.

2015 will be the 21st edition of COP and world leaders are aiming to achieve a legally binding, fully articulated agreement which will apply to all countries.

What’s interesting is how this year’s process will be different from its predecessors. Whilst the first few years of climate negotiations focused around “top-down” targets to drive national action this year individual countries are being asked to contribute their own plans for carbon reduction instead, and an agreement at a global level will ensure each nation’s pledges adds up to sufficient international action.

Closer to home Scotland is already working towards meeting its own targets outlined in the 2009 Climate Change Act; a 42% reduction of the 1990 baseline level by 2020, and 80% reduction by 2050.

Tackling transport emissions plays a significant part in this as it accounted for 21% of total Scottish emissions in 2012. Car use remains the single biggest contributor towards transport emissions and so walking and cycling can play a significant part in reducing these harmful greenhouse gases. The Bike Life Edinburgh report published earlier this year shows that in the capital alone 6,234 tonnes of CO2 are saved annually by people riding a bike rather than driving – equivalent to the annual emissions of over 2,400 cars.

Choosing active travel is one of the everyday actions individuals can have some control over and providing the right infrastructure serves to add value and complement our public transport network. Working together to meet the objectives of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and the National Walking Strategy (and more!) we can help decarbonise transport and make our towns and cities healthier, cleaner and greener places to live.

Find out how changes to your travel can benefit the environment

Join Scotland’s Climate March on Saturday 28th November


This originally featured on the Sustrans website, you can view it here: