NGO

It’s time to empower ourselves and work together for a better future

Stop Climate Chaos - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:07

Blog by Steve McNaught, Arkbound Foundation 

As so many of us are aware, the climate crisis is not going away. Reduction of carbon emissions during the peak of COVID-19 – when flights were grounded, manufacturing brought to a halt and most people confined to their homes – was 4.6%. Significant, but still a long way off from the 7% required – which would need to keep falling further each year this decade if we are to avoid a rise of over 1.5C in global temperatures. Indeed, the impacts of climate change are already starting to occur: record high temperatures, increasing intensity and frequency of storms, widespread permanent calving of ice sheets, and rising ocean acidity levels. Inevitably, it is the poorest and most disadvantaged groups who experience the consequences of these impacts first, although even people in the richest countries – like in the USA or Australia – are waking up the to the fact that they can’t escape it either.

What is to be the agenda of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year? Going by previous COPs, we may well find ourselves wondering what practical difference it makes. Most governments have made commitments to reduce carbon emissions – some have even declared climate emergencies – but there is almost a void in implementing practical steps. Short sighted arguments, based on the illusion of limitless economic growth (as measured by production and consumption, or GDP), are already being touted by leading politicians. Where there is such a burning need for economic ‘prosperity’, the climate all too often is a marginal consideration. Even though the long term costs will be far, far higher.

With this backdrop in mind, the Arkbound Foundation is working with other organisations to deliver a landmark publication, timed for the COP26. The focus will not be on raising awareness of the climate emergency or outlining ways to reduce emissions, but rather conveying a practical way for people and communities to adapt to climate change, even looking at new socio-economic models. For too long we have tried to forge ahead under a model based upon exploitation – of other people and the environment. We need to start looking to models based on self-sufficiency, a circular economy and shared, cooperative ownership. By drawing on case studies from around the world – from Indigenous communities based in the Global South to leading academics working on pioneering projects – the book seeks to present a resource for people looking to build a new future.

Alongside the book, we will be looking to open up possibilities around the support and creation of ecological communities in Scotland, to provide a place for climate refugees across the world to live and learn, as well as other groups looking to live sustainably. From the Findhorn Foundation based near Inverness to the Samye Ling centre in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland is speckled with self-sufficient communities that produce their own food, with minimal (even negative) carbon footprints. Even in urban areas, there are ways to implement some of the knowledge and practices of these places to make life better for everyone.

In the run up to these initiatives, we are looking to plant 1000 native oak saplings around the Glasgow area. Planting a tree is more than a symbolic gesture: it will go on to survive our lifetime, providing clean air and a habitat for countless species. The UK, including most of Scotland, was once covered in trees – but at present they only cover 13% of the land, contrasting with an average of 35% for most EU countries. Planting more trees and re-wilding is an important aspect of addressing climate change, but despite Government commitments in this area we are still a long way behind.

It’s time to empower ourselves and work together for a better future, realising the immensity of the challenge but finding hope in what others have already accomplished. If you are interested in getting involved with any of these initiatives, please feel free to contact us via info@arkfound.org or visit our website at www.arkbound.ac.uk

The post It’s time to empower ourselves and work together for a better future appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Finding our way through two emergencies

Stop Climate Chaos - Mon, 09/21/2020 - 08:17

SCCS Chair Tom Ballantine reflects on how our response to the pandemic can shape how we deal with the other crisis we face and the key opportunities that are coming up to take action

The coronavirus crisis has understandably taken up huge amounts of our collective and individual resources, time and attention. But another emergency, the climate emergency, has not gone away. It remains real and pressing. A sense of urgency was initially generated by the UN Special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5° of 2018. It set out the catastrophic costs and impacts of inaction, and the benefits of early action, on climate change. Momentum for that action picked up with strong campaigning from across civil society including the dramatic interventions of Extinction Rebellion and school strikes. We ended 2019 with new Scottish Climate legislation committing Scotland to emission reductions of 75% by 2030 and to achieving nett zero emissions by 2045. The challenge now is to come back from coronavirus in a way that picks up and takes on the imperative for climate action.

In this space we have paused and reflected on our vulnerability and what we truly value: family, community, health, clean air, quieter streets, green spaces and good, reliable food. Safeguarding those things must be the touchstone for what we do next- addressing both a green return from the pandemic and a green transition away from the precipice of catastrophic climate change.

During the pandemic we have also understood the benefit of honesty, accurate scientific advice and acting in accordance with that advice. That understanding, and a willingness to engage with necessary action informed by understanding, must drive our journey forward in response to both crises.

As we pick through the damage and think about how we come back certain climate goals must be to the fore. We in Scotland, UK and the rest of the world have to offer emission reduction commitments that are consistent with limiting heating to 1.5°. Rich countries need to provide financial support for those most impacted by, and least responsible for, climate change in poorer countries around the world.

We have the key United Nations talks on climate change coming to Glasgow next November. At present the targets for emission reductions set by nations for themselves (Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) are woefully inadequate- propelling us towards 3 to 4° of warming. In Scotland we are in a strong position to set an inspiring example and start to change that. We have targets in our legislation to reduce our domestic emissions by 75% by 2030 reaching nett zero emissions by 2045. That is the perfect platform from which Scotland can make an early commitment to an indicative NDC consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°.

These goals need reconstruction and government support at the more detailed level in practical ways: energy systems that produce 100% renewable electricity by 2030; buildings made fit for the future with regulation and investment to ensure all homes reach the highest standards of energy efficiency by 2030; a transport network that prioritises reducing car use and promotes walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

The reconstruction means no longer throwing away but making the transition to a circular economy and pushing for more reuse and recycling. It means food that is more local and is not wasted. It requires land use that rewards farming that adopts low carbon practices, the planting of trees and restoring peatland. It demands seas properly valued, understood and protected for their role in holding carbon. It needs support for changes to our lifestyles- less driving and flying, more walking and cycling; less time in the office, more working from home

Running through all of this is a value that is not often articulated but has informed the best responses to coronavirus. The idea that all lives are important whether you are talking about a pandemic or the future of the planet. That fundamental principle of justice and fairness needs to be at the heart of future planning. Climate justice requires more money for those most affected elsewhere in the world. It needs a properly thought through and managed transition for workers in Scotland away from the jobs we no longer need, or can afford, to the jobs we desperately need to deliver this transformation.

The cost of a return to ‘business as usual’, or the nearest approximation we can get to it, will be a further push towards climate catastrophe and the environmental, economic and social fallout we have been warned of. The prize of a green and just reconstruction, focussed on wellbeing, is huge- a sustainable future for all of us- young, old and generations to come.

With honesty and determination we can find our way through two emergencies – covid-19 and climate. The opportunity for the transition to an economy focussed on wellbeing has arrived just in time and can bring economic, social and environmental rewards.

How appropriate if 2020 was the year we saw the need for change and made it.

 

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Categories: NGO

Where is the ‘local’ in our Green Recovery?

Stop Climate Chaos - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 13:48
We are now firmly in an age of crisis. The global covid-19 pandemic rumbles on; the financial crisis of 2008, which was never fully over, is back with a vengeance; and catastrophic global heating is fast becoming a reality. Benny Talbot of Community Energy Scotland, explains how thinking local can help us with our Green Recovery.

Finally politicians of all colours can agree that if we are going to get ourselves out of this mess with our civilisation intact we need a green recovery. But words are easy to say in politics, and what ‘green recovery’ means in practice is far from agreed.

What is a ‘green recovery’ anyway?

A green recovery is not the no strings attached bailouts for airlines, tax holiday for property developers, and privatisation of health services that we have seen coming from Westminster in the last few months. Nor is it the Scottish government appointing Benny Higgins, financier and representative of the largest landowner is Scotland, to write its recommendations.

This sort of ‘recovery’ is what has led to a further widening of the wealth gap, and creeping despair over our chances to avert ecological collapse. It is important to call out these short term solutions, which just defer the problem and worsen the other crises we face. But we also need to set out a vision for what a just and green recovery would actually look like in Scotland.

Much high quality work has already been done on this by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Commonweal and others, in putting forwards plans that show what we could achieve with large scale and systematic intervention, aimed not just at mitigating the impacts of the crises, but also addressing their root causes.

However one area that has not received enough attention is the role of local democracy, and local communities. Community Energy Scotland has just published a set of proposals aiming to show how local action, supported by a National Community Energy Plan should form a key part of a green recovery.

Resilience is local

Community groups have been at the forefront of covid relief efforts; from the comprehensive network of mutual aid groups that sprung up within a week of lockdown, to the local anchor organisations in every town that are out each day delivering food to vulnerable households.

Community and grassroots action has also led efforts to tackle global heating. Without extinction rebellion and the school climate strikes, it’s very hard to see how our politicians would have dared to declare a climate and ecological emergency.

And yet the vast majority of the solutions that have been put forward, by politicians and campaign groups alike, focus on top down solutions. Why are we ignoring the potential to harness the energy and enthusiasm of these local groups, and often side-lining the very people who made change possible in the first place?

A local layer of action

Large scale interventions and national plans are essential for achieving fast and systematic change in a fair way. However, national initiatives are not on their own enough to solve all of the problems that we face – they should be designed to work with and alongside a local layer of action.

Many of the largest barriers to decarbonisation are so problematic precisely because they require local solutions. There is no one size fits all solution to insulating our draughty homes, moving to sustainable forms of heating, or educating people about the coming changes – they all require sensitivity to local needs and resources. Indeed, it is now acknowledged that the electricity grid itself needs to become far more flexible, and power flows more localised, if we are to keep the lights on with 100% renewable energy.

These are all areas where local authorities and community groups could play a vital role. To pick just one example, a national insulation retrofitting scheme could appoint one big contractor, based in the central belt, to do all the work. But we have seen how this would lead to cherry picking of the easiest jobs, and the use of standardised techniques often inappropriate for local needs. A far more effective approach would be to seek out local partners in each area, working street by street to benefit from economies of scale while dealing with one building type at a time, and providing training and employment to locally based tradespeople who will still be around to maintain the heating systems when the main project is long gone.

The need to plan local doesn’t only apply to the climate crisis. Our ability to resist covid has been hampered by a centralised track and trace system that fails to contact some of the most at risk communities, like rough sleepers and ethnic minority groups with non-standard naming conventions. Many of the locked down local authorities in Northern England have already had to establish their own track and trace operations to fill in the gaps.

Democratic deficit

The elephant in the room is that Scotland is unique in Europe in lacking a local layer of democracy. Even England has town councils, while France and Switzerland have local communes providing representation down to the level of a few hundred people. But since the abolition of the Burghs Scotland’s lowest layer of functioning democracy is the Local Authority, representing a few hundred thousand people. This means that our ability to act locally is greatly hampered, and goes a long way to explaining why Scotland has failed to make progress in areas that need local planning, such as the construction of district heating networks.

The Development Trusts that have emerged, ad hoc, in many communities to fill this democratic void are the closest thing that we have in Scotland to a local democracy. However they do not cover all areas equally, and with no core funding are mostly dependent on insecure short term grants. The Scottish Governments Local Democracy Review, which has been kicked into the long grass time and again, needs to urgently bring forward some solutions – but in the meantime the Development Trusts must be a key part of any green recovery plan.

There is precedent for this approach. In Scotland the community energy movement emerged when Development Trusts, often after a community land buyout, decided to develop a wind turbine or hydro station to provide a regular income to support their other work. The main objective was financial security, but they decided to get there by helping to combat the climate crisis. Communities are good at finding holistic local solutions like this, and the green recovery should harness that talent.

You can find the full papers referred to in this blog here

The post Where is the ‘local’ in our Green Recovery? appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Transitioning to a circular economy is key for Scotland’s just and green recovery.

Stop Climate Chaos - Fri, 08/28/2020 - 07:56

By Sarah Moyes, Plastic and Circular Economy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland

For the first time ever, global resource consumption has passed 100 billions tonnes a year. In fact over the past few years, the amount of materials we consume has increased from 93 billion tonnes in 2015 to 100.6 billion tonnes in 2017, the last year in which data is available. 

As we look ahead to how we recover from the devastating impacts of coronavirus, there is an even greater need than before to move towards a circular economy.  An economy which helps us to reduce our reliance on the earth’s decreasing resources and makes Scotland more resilient to future global crises.

In order to do this we must move away from our current linear economy model which is heavily extractive and reliant on fossil fuels to a circular economy with high levels of reuse, repair and recycling. Essentially, we need to keep materials circulating for as long as possible before becoming waste. 

The Scottish Government has already announced some circular economy plans for Scotland. The latte levy, a 25p charge on disposable cups, will help to tackle the 200 million single-use disposable cups that are discarded in Scotland each year. And the Deposit Return Scheme will help to increase recycling for PET plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum drinks containers. However it’s vital that both these schemes are introduced as soon as possible. As DRS is already confirmed to happen 15 months later than originally planned, it must be introduced by 2022 as any further delay risks not only an increase in plastic pollution but a crucial step towards reducing our climate emissions. 

Over the past few years, we have made some real steps forward in the fight against single-use plastics and it’s vital we continue to support behaviour changes to cut waste. In 2019, Scotland became the first country in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds but as we come out of this pandemic, we need to make sure we don’t reverse the long terms gains we have made as single-use items like masks, gloves and food packaging have 

increased over the last few months. Moving forward, we need the Scottish Government to introduce a full ban on the items in the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive priority list, which includes plastic straws, cutlery and oxo-degradable plastics, by July 2021. 

In April, it was announced that the Circular Economy Bill would no longer be introduced in spring 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, and while this was understandable, coronavirus has shown us that we need to move to a circular economy more than ever. 

In order to do that, we must properly capture the impact of our consumption of resources. Scotland’s 2045 net-zero target only requires us to reduce our territorial emissions, yet 51.1% of Scotland’s carbon footprint is made up of greenhouse gas emissions embedded in imported goods and services from overseas. That’s why we need robust targets such as a carbon footprint target including imported emissions, a material footprint target, and a commitment to set a biomass reduction target when data is available.

With our global use of materials forecast to rise to between 170 to 184 billion tonnes by the mid-century, it’s clear that moving to a circular economy in Scotland must be at the forefront of any response as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Categories: NGO

Our economic recovery must protect and enhance our land and sea

Stop Climate Chaos - Fri, 08/28/2020 - 07:56

Blog by Andrew Midgley, Senior Land Use Policy Officer, RSPB Scotland

Nature really matters. Over the last few months of the Covid pandemic many of us have explored our local area and come to really appreciate the value of nature in our lives. Increasingly we are recognising how important nature is to our physical and mental wellbeing and this growing understanding of the benefits of nature is fantastic. But nature can also play a vital role in our response to climate change. By protecting and enhancing our land and seas we can tackle both the biodiversity and the climate crisis at the same time. We now need the Scottish Government to invest in and drive forward this agenda and make it a central part of our economic recovery.

But what do I mean by saying that nature has a role to play in our response to climate change? Well, I’m thinking of things like planting trees, restoring damaged peat bogs and improving the condition of natural habitats like saltmarshes or seabeds.   

Let’s take a couple of those examples. Peatlands cover 20% of Scotland and healthy peatlands can play a vital role in carbon storage and in maintaining Scotland’s water quality and biodiversity. If we look after them, peatlands will store carbon and support a range of wildlife that likes to live and breed in this landscape. Unfortunately, much of our peatland is in poor condition and damaged peatlands actually release greenhouse gases rather than store them. So if we restore peatlands to a healthy state, we will be working to address both the climate and biodiversity crises. 

Similarly, trees remove carbon from the atmosphere and woodlands that remain in place for a long time keep that carbon stored. This is important because we are collectively aiming to achieve a target of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2045. Reaching ‘net zero’ will require big reductions in emissions from activities like transport, industry and farming and big increases in the removal of carbon from the atmosphere from activities like woodland creation and peatland restoration. Hence ‘nature’ having a big role to play.

Fortunately, the Scottish Government recognises the important role that nature can play. With regard to peatlands, there was some good news recently when it announced that the government would earmark £250 million to peatland restoration over the next 10 years. This is a good start. 

But while this recent commitment is very welcome, greater investment and action is needed. I know that  sounds like ‘please sir, can we have some more’, but at current costs, £250 million will pay for restoration of approximately 250,000 hectares of peatland while the government itself claims that there is approximately 600,000 hectares of degraded peatland in Scotland (which is arguably a very large underestimate). Clearly, we still have a long way to go and we need to be aiming at restoring all our peatlands and stopping the practices that lead to the degradation in the first place.

On tree planting, the Scottish Government is also keen to see expansion and is aiming for 15,000 hectares of woodland creation per year by 2025. At the moment the government appears to be especially keen on expanding the commercial forestry industry, but we would also want to see a large share of any new woodland creation being native woodland, which arguably locks in carbon for longer and delivers much better co-benefits for biodiversity. While we do need to see woodland expansion, it will be important to make sure that new woodland creation does not damage existing high nature value habitats. A more coordinated and strategic approach to land use in the context of climate change is clearly needed. 

The message is clear; helping nature can help tackle climate change. The Scottish Government recognises this but could do so much more to really grasp the opportunities. Greater investment and ambition for what nature can deliver would make a massive contribution to the national response to climate change and tackle the biodiversity crisis at the same time. This would be a way of investing in our more remote rural areas and supporting our land managers and communities at a time when they need it most. Investing in nature would be one important strand of a green recovery. We just need to make sure we maximise the benefits of activities like tree planting and peatland restoration and minimise the unintended consequences. 

It can be done if all stakeholders pull in the same direction and the government ramps up its commitment. Let’s get on with it. The climate will benefit, nature will benefit, we will benefit. It’s a no-brainer!

The post Our economic recovery must protect and enhance our land and sea appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

The complexity of our food systems and the implications for climate change

Stop Climate Chaos - Fri, 08/28/2020 - 07:55

By Keesje Avis, Senior Policy Officer and Clerk of Farming 1.5 Inquiry at Nourish Scotland

What do you think of when you think of food? Breakfast this morning? The wrappers on your desk? The celebratory feast you enjoyed with your loved ones? An exquisite dish from a restaurant you wish you could get a booking at? A hungry tummy? 

Food is constant to our everyday. Either because we enjoy it or loathe it or don’t have enough of it. It is embedded into our celebrations, our commiserations, our families and our culture. It is also central to human health, human rights and the natural world – an intersection, if you will, between how human beings treat each other, themselves and live as part of the ecosystem. This is why, from a climate change point of view the food system is so important and also currently avoided.

Food systems incorporate a range of activities from seed sowing to household and commercial waste disposal. Different scientists have estimated food related emissions to be anywhere from a quarter to a third of the world’s total emissions. The variation is due to differences in weather, culture, diets, wealth and habits from region to country to families and to individuals. It makes counting messy but it also makes accountability difficult. The international food system is managed by multinational organisations with complex supply chains and dependencies. They are outside governments, farmers and food citizens alike.

Think of a bottle of tomato ketchup – a ubiquitous product in people’s cupboards (or in their fridges – that’s a debate for another time!) across the world. A life cycle analysis back in 1999 of Swedish ketchup found that the tomatoes came from a range of Mediterranean countries. Other elements from the vinegar to the bottles came from a further 8 different countries and involved more than 52 transport and process stages. This was without tracing the fertilisers, seeds, lubricating oils, wholesale dealer, retailer, consumption and waste. There is a lot going on in that bottle loitering in the back of your cupboard! 

So, am I telling you not to buy it? No. Ketchup in itself is not ‘climate evil’. In fact a more recent life cycle assessment of different types of ketchup in different bottle types revealed emissions of only 5-10kg’s/year per person – a tiny part of your carbon footprint. So, if our individual consumption is insignificant, whose actions do count? Who is accountable? 

At the moment, the knee-jerk response is to refer back to the greenhouse gas emissions’ silos as set out by the UNFCCC. The growing of the tomatoes and the sugar beet in ketchup, officially sits in ‘agriculture’, processing would be under ‘industrial’ emissions, transport under ‘transport’. This ties emissions to a particular place making it easier to measure and simpler to designate accountability. Each country needs to reduce their emissions under each theme. But no farmer in Scotland grew the tomatoes in your ketchup, nor are they Scottish workers picking tomatoes in 40°C heat for 11 hours a day. Who is accountable for the fertiliser sales-person promising to sort out the yield issues because the soil is so barren? Or the retailer that sells ketchup at 2 for 1? Or the doctor who treats the diabetes and heart disease caused by eating too much processed food – often the accompaniment to ketchup? All of these issues have climate implications and yet managing them remains elusive.

This year’s global ketchup sales revenue is around US$27 227m. This is huge business, but only a condiment to the global food industry. And yet, how we as individuals, communities and nations produce and source food, our food choices and how it is wasted presents considerable scope for tackling climate change. It cannot be left to the market.  The creation of people, nature and climate friendly food systems needs governance, at the international, national and subnational levels.

In Scotland, there is talk of a National Food Plan. In Europe there are the beginnings of the Farm to Fork strategy. But could food take more of a centre stage during COP? Could the UK make a brave stand as host and include it within its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Or could Scotland present its own NDC and include food as an intersectional theme?  

I say again, it’s complex stuff, but also very important. Our current strategies are not effectively dealing with the climate or nature or human health emergencies. It is time to get out of the silos and act systemically.

Find out more about Nourish’s work on climate and food systems by:

Find out more about a Scottish rural business trying innovative approaches to growing tomatoes: http://www.standhillfarm.co.uk/

The post The complexity of our food systems and the implications for climate change appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

We need a global recovery that leaves no one behind

Stop Climate Chaos - Fri, 08/28/2020 - 07:55

By Sarah Freeman, Policy Officer at SCIAF

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything. In Europe and the US, we have adapted to a new normal. We wear face masks, wash our hands, and follow lockdown restrictions in our global efforts to protect ourselves. 

Yet, there is a fundamental flaw in our collective armour. Not everyone has access to soap and clean water, or adequate healthcare. Not everyone can afford to stay at home and stay safe. COVID-19 has deepened global inequalities and hit the poorest and most marginalised the hardest. It risks undoing the progress we have made towards the Sustainable Development Goals and threatens to push millions of people further in to poverty.

Communities in the global south are facing a double threat: COVID-19 and climate change. For many people around the world, the effects of climate change were already threating livelihoods, healthcare and access to food. As Scotland begins to recover, we must transform our world for the better by putting people and the planet first. We must not go back to normal. Normal was not good enough for millions of people already facing the catastrophic consequences of climate change. 

In central Zambia, climate change is having a devastating effect. Unpredictable droughts have caused widespread crop failure, harvests have been limited and food prices have rocketed. Many people are surviving on just three meals a week. High malnutrition combined with limited water sources has led to increasing gender-based violence and outbreaks of preventable diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis and malaria. 

Now COVID-19 has arrived. Protective face masks and hand sanitisers are unaffordable and poor diet and high rates of poverty-related diseases put people at greater risk of coronavirus. School closures are affecting education levels, and restrictions on movement have led to high unemployment rates. Women are bearing the burden of this double crisis. 

We need to build back better. We need a global recovery that leaves no-one behind; a fairer and greener world that puts people and planet first. This could be a historic turning point when we tackle the twin emergencies of coronavirus and climate change. It’s a chance to build resilience against future crises at home and abroad. A chance to build on our commitments to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

For a truly green and just recovery, we need to support communities’ resilience to future emergencies and help them to recover from the double threats of COVID-19 and climate change. In Scotland, we have prospered from our greenhouse gas emissions and we have a moral responsibility to support those who are suffering the most but have done the least to cause the climate crisis. By increasing the Climate Justice Fund, Scotland can set a strong, global example of climate justice in the run up to COP26 and urge other nations to do the same. Our leadership has never been more important.

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Categories: NGO

Three ways to make our buildings fit for the future

Stop Climate Chaos - Fri, 08/28/2020 - 07:54

By Amelia Guy-Meakin, Scotland COP26 Coordinator, WWF

Heating our homes, offices and other buildings accounts for a quarter of Scotland’s climate emissions. Why? Because many of our buildings aren’t energy efficient and the vast majority today are heated using fossil fuels – either fossil gas for those on the mains network or coal, oil and liquified petroleum gas for those off it (usually in rural areas). 

We need to find cleaner and renewable ways to keep our buildings warm. Scotland can’t get to net zero emissions otherwise.  

To meet Scotland’s climate targets, we will need to improve our buildings at some stage, and it makes sense to start as quickly as possible for our economy, people and planet. If we do this now, we will avoid costly and inefficient retrofitting in the future. The Scottish Government has many of the levers it needs to take action, and investing in our homes and workplaces will achieve multiple wins. It will create jobs and skills at pace and over time across the country, keep us warmer and healthier, and lower heating bills – for our vulnerable communities and so we can spend our money on other things. 

There are three key solutions to clean up our buildings: 

  1. Energy efficiency 

Lots of heat is lost from our buildings, which comes at a cost to us and the climate. The solution is to make our existing and new buildings energy efficient. This means stopping energy leaking from our buildings by insulating roofs, walls and floors, and improving the glazing of our windows. 

  1. Heat networks

Heat networks are a flexible and efficient way to heat our cities compared with the individual fossil fuel boilers in our buildings. They work by using a single, large source of renewable heat to carry hot water via pipes in the ground to buildings. And they can be run using a number of green heat sources, such as heat from waste (including electric substations or the subway), geothermal energy, and even rivers. It’s no surprise why heat networks are common in Scandinavia! 

  1. Electric heat pumps

Heat networks won’t be economically viable for some suburban or rural areas, and in these instances, the best solution for making our buildings warm and cosy will likely be the installation of electric heat pumps. They take a small amount of power to extract heat from the air, ground or water. It’s the same system that cools our fridges, only in reverse! Electric heat pumps are highly efficient and make the best use of Scotland’s abundant renewable resources. While only 6% of Scotland’s heating today comes from renewable sources, heat pumps can change that and help end our reliance on polluting fossil fuels, and their volatile prices.

We need the Government to use policies and funding to improve our buildings at scale by:

  • introducing minimum energy standards (from 2024) for any home being rented or sold, with incentives to help householders meet the costs of insulation, and for all homes in Scotland to reach at least Energy Performance ‘C’ by 2030.
  • phasing out the dirtiest forms of heating (such as oil and liquified petroleum gas) in areas off the gas grid by 2025. Householders should be supported to install heat pumps instead.
  • setting an end-date for the last installation of new gas boilers in homes on the gas grid. 
  • ensuring new homes are built to the highest energy efficiency standards and are low carbon. The Scottish Government will require all new homes to use low carbon heating from 2024, but that date should be brought forward so we don’t need to retrofit the buildings being built now to reach net zero.

The post Three ways to make our buildings fit for the future appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Harnessing Scotland’s climate example: our call for an indicative Nationally Determined Contribution

Stop Climate Chaos - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 16:08

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland has asked the Scottish Government to commit to publishing an indicative Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) ahead of COP26 in Programme for Government. We hope this public commitment with the 75% emissions reduction by 2030 target as a headline will enable the leveraging of the target to influence the development of other countries’ NDCs, which are currently in preparation and due by the end of the year.

Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, has written this article for the Scotsman explaining the opportunity we have to harness Scotland’s example:

 

Small countries can make a difference. At the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 over a hundred smaller and poorer countries issued a strong call for action to limit climate change to 1.5ºC. This shifted the focus from aiming at 2ºC, and eventually led to the Paris Agreement commitments to keep global warming to under 2ºC, with efforts towards 1.5ºC.

Scotland’s climate commitments

In Scotland we have made great strides on moving from a coal-dominated electricity system to one where the biggest source of power is renewable energy. We have among the toughest future climate targets of any industrialised country and a track record better than most on actually reducing emissions – we are aiming for net zero emissions by 2045 with a 75% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030. For comparison, as a bloc Europe is currently aiming for 50-55% by 2030 and almost no European country has targets as tough as Scotland’s.

We can argue about whether we’ve done enough and whether we’re aiming high enough (and we often do), but it is certainly true that Scotland is doing better than most wealthy countries.

How can we harness that good example? With the UN climate talks COP26 coming to Glasgow in December of next year there will be a global spotlight on Scotland’s record on climate change, from the public, from the media and from the other countries coming to negotiate the next steps in reducing the world’s emissions.

What countries are committed to doing

A key tool of the international climate process are Nationally Determined Contributions, which lay out what targets a country is aiming for and how it plans to get there, and may also contain information on how they expect to help other countries. In UN jargon they are called NDCs.

The 2015 Paris Agreement sets the framework for these NDCs and requires every UN member state to produce a revised plan, with more ambition, this year. The new plans are crucial because current plans put us on track for a catastrophic 3 or 4ºC of warming.

One of the central discussions in Glasgow will be about the NDCs, whether they collectively add up to enough, whether they are realistic, who’s aiming for what by 2030, who clearly wasn’t serious when they wrote theirs and which contain good examples others can learn from.

The UK has been part of the EU’s NDC but, as a consequence of Brexit, is now developing its own. The Scottish Government feeds into this work, but Scotland does not have its own NDC.

The Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition has just written to Climate Secretary Roseanna Cunningham asking her to commit to producing a Scottish “indicative” NDC in the run up to the Glasgow talks.

This should be a simple task because our submissions to the UK NDC mean much of the work is already done and a detailed Climate Change Plan on how to meet our targets is due out at the end of the year. We also already have a positive story to include about the Climate Justice Fund, a small but effective programme of work funded by the Scottish Government in four African countries since 2012.

There could be no better way to bring together past progress and future ambition in an internationally recognised format, showcasing what we have done, highlighting the 2030 target and developing and cementing our future plans in the context of global climate action. As a small nation with a number of really good stories to tell on climate change, we are in a unique position to use the UN NDC system to get those stories out and press for greater global action.

Dr Richard Dixon is Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland. A version of this article appeared in The Scotsman on Tuesday 25th August 2020.

The post Harnessing Scotland’s climate example: our call for an indicative Nationally Determined Contribution appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Scottish campaigners come together online to tackle climate emergency

Stop Climate Chaos - Tue, 07/21/2020 - 11:08

Climate campaigners across Scotland are finding the enforced challenge of moving online is helping them build links beyond traditional borders and foster creative ways to involve more people.

The Climate Fringe is a new initiative to bring together the huge array of events and activities planned to take place across Scotland in the run up to, and during, the UN Climate Talks in Glasgow – known as COP26. These critical talks may have been delayed a year due to coronavirus, but in the first month the website has been live, more than 100 events have been uploaded.

Online initiatives featured on www.climatefringe.org include:

•       ÚNA Festival linking artists in Latin America and Scotland and our connections with the natural world.
•       Creative Carbon Scotland designing creative solutions
•       Govanhill Swap Market overcoming digital divide

Kat Jones of Stop Climate Chaos, the coalition of civil society organisations which is supporting the Climate Fringe initiative, commented,

“Coronavirus meant that we needed to think differently. But as soon as we took the plunge and shifted the Climate Fringe from offline events into an online events hub, it all fell into place. There is just so much going on, and the events started flooding in.

“Attendance at the online events has been really high, and we are getting interaction from not just Scotland and the UK, but from across the world – that’s key because we need to hear the voices of those most impacted by the spiralling climate crisis.”

Back in February Stop Climate Chaos Scotland were preparing for a frantic countdown to the climate talks, scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November 2020. But when the UN decided to delay by 12 months, a rethink was needed.

“The Climate Fringe is particularly aiming to inspire people to get involved through connecting people with creative approaches online, and highlighting where artists and activists are working together. There are some amazing events now up on the website showing how artists and activists are responding to the challenges of covid with inspiring creativity.”

** ÚNA Festival**

ÚNA Festival, which takes place next week, is a case in point.  This Glasgow-based arts festival is all about linking artists in Latin America and Scotland and has a focus on stories, myth and art, and how they connect us with the natural world.

Isabella Noero, the director of ÚNA, who is originally from Colombia, said,
“We found that moving the festival to online had its challenges, but we have also been able to bring in more artists from Latin America, and from less accessible locations, to the digital edition of the festival, while opening it up to audiences all over the world.”

2020 is the year is the Scottish Year of Coasts and Waters and ÚNA takes up this theme for the event which launches on Thursday 23th July on their unafest.com platform.

“We are living in times where, under strict quarantine measures, the most direct contact to the natural world for many has been water. We will have music, arts and storytelling to transport us through different traditions and geographies: from the Scottish Highlands and Gaelic myth, to the rivers of the Amazon Rainforest. Two regions both separated and linked by the Atlantic ocean.”

ÚNA is now planning to bring artists from across Latin America to Glasgow during COP26 in November 2021 and this year’s event being online will help build their connections ahead of that.

Isabella says,
“Chile held the presidency of the 2019 summit and so the link with Scotland is particularly important. The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow during COP and so we will aim to share the richness of Scottish culture and highlight the many similarities it shares with Latin America.”

** Govanhill Swap Market **

Artist-activist Ailie Rutherford has created the Swap Market in Govanhill, Glasgow as a space for swapping and sharing resources, running fortnightly online meetings for their local members. She says,
“We are coming together to draw, sketch and discuss, around subjects of social justice, the economy and climate breakdown. The aim is to help people find space for creative resistance and action in times of physical distancing.”

But taking things online is not the whole answer, and there are risks too. Ailie’s Swap market events have seen many new faces, many dialling in from across the globe, however Ailie found that at least half of their usual Swap Market members do not have access online,

“We have also needed to instigate a lot of offline ways of sharing and remote exchanges for those people who are don’t have internet access. We’ve been using the Swap Market’s shop windows, local notice boards and poster sites to host artworks.”

** Creative Carbon Scotland **

Creative Carbon Scotland has been taking an innovative approach to communicating during the pandemic. The organisation was set up to work with the arts and culture community on climate and sustainability, and has found creative ways of producing online events that break the usual panel discussion mould.

Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Transformation Through Culture Officer at Creative Carbon Scotland says,

“Our next event will consist of a participatory public art work by Rosanna Irvine where participants will connect to devise collective manifestos.“
“We are also working with artist and games designer Matteo Menapace to create a workshop disguised as a role-playing game as well as a virtual ‘Museum of the FutureNow’ created by artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman.”
“These events will allow participants to step out of their daily roles and to be more imaginative and playful in the process of imagining solutions to shared problems.”

The post Scottish campaigners come together online to tackle climate emergency appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Interview with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland founder Mike Robinson

Stop Climate Chaos - Mon, 06/22/2020 - 13:40

An Interview with Chief Executive of RSGS and Founder Member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Mike Robinson

On 18th June, after 14 years, Mike Robinson stepped down from the charity coalition he helped establish and initially chaired back in 2006, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. In this interview with Jo Woolf, Writer in Residence at RSGS, he speaks about his lifelong passion for environmental issues and his hopes for the future.

How did you become interested in climate change?

As a child I didn’t understand why grown-ups were so obsessed with time and money and paid so little regard to the environment. I feel I grew up as part of the Greenpeace generation because to me they represented a challenge to this status quo. I’ve always been bemused by the fact that we don’t look after the environment very well. Although we encourage kids to care about the environment, I felt that once I left university and started work I was meant to leave all that behind, that somehow it was a luxury and not seen as anything to do with business.

Years later, I remember meeting a successful businesswoman who had devoted her life to working in her family’s firm. When she retired her only reference other than work was to reflect back to her happy childhood. She bought the house that she’d grown up in, along with a small woodland, and began to restore it, trying to recreate the things she remembered so fondly from childhood, but now years later realised had disappeared. It struck me that she had finally come back to the one important thing that she’d set aside when she started work. I guess, when I got a job myself, I refused to leave that part of me at the door!

What inspired you to help set up SCCS?

I’m big-picture minded and I’ve always wanted to tackle issues on an ambitious scale. I also wanted people to start talking about climate change more openly. When I was working at RSPB, I realised we weren’t talking about climate change and wanted to find something positive people could spend money on which would help. I set up a renewable energy project (Going Solar) that involved householders investing in solar panels. This puzzled some members because they didn’t immediately make the connection between wildlife and climate change – another valuable lesson in the fact that not everybody makes the same connections.

In 2004 and 2005, more science on climate change was being published, but there was no obvious public focal point, despite a growing public anxiety. I was talking with a lot of like-minded people about how to respond, and there was clearly a gap. Somebody needed to raise a flag and say, “If you care about this, come over here – let’s try and do something together.” And it needed to be a broad and representative voice to reflect the huge breadth and severity of the issue.

The Network for Social Change had spotted this gap and had brought together a small number of major NGOs in London to establish Stop Climate Chaos, focused on Westminster. There were a number of actors pushing to form a Scottish version of the coalition to focus efforts on Holyrood. I was invited to meet representatives of NGOs such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, RSPB, WWF and Friends of the Earth, and was asked to Chair and help establish the coalition, so we set about trying to recruit as many organisations as we could to the cause. After a slow start and more presentations to boards and CEOs than I can count, it began to take shape, eventually building to over 60 member organisations, with between us around 2 million members in Scotland. As a country with a population of only 5.2 million people, it became and remains the largest coalition ever formed in this country and included community groups, health charities, student bodies, humanitarian and aid agencies and most environmental organisations.

Establishing and Chairing SCCS is probably the greatest privilege of my working life, and it made me appreciate the amazing people who choose to work for charities – I met so many of the kindest, hardest working, brightest and most compassionate, most politically savvy people throughout the third sector.

What were the main aims of SCCS?

The primary aim was to get promote climate action amongst our supporter’s bases, to secure legislation – a climate act through the Scottish Parliament, and if successful to then promote the Scottish example more broadly to try to inspire other nations to respond. There was already a discussion going on in Westminster, and now we had an opportunity to achieve something in Scotland. Initially I was involved in both, because I also sat on the board of the London coalition (called Stop Climate Chaos).

We formally set up the charity and began to build from the bottom up. In October 2006 I organised a series of talks at the Botanics, and invited all the biggest names we could find in climate change. This led to about a thousand people attending talks and an instant direct supporter base and media profile as many of our speakers were also asked to respond to unfolding events such as major weather events or the Stern report.

Crucially we gained the support of the eco-congregations, and through them the Church of Scotland, and also the Catholic Church. We brought together all the religious leaders for a joint press statement on climate change, and their support took the campaign to another level. Politicians couldn’t hide behind party political lines, when religious leaders were not hiding behind religious lines! This also brought more members of the business community behind the call, and the momentum kept ratcheting up!

What happened in the run-up to the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009?

Our first challenge was the consultation. We wanted to make sure it was picked up widely and lots of people responded. In the end we generated more than 24,000 responses – making it the largest consultation ever (only exceeded now by the consultation on the smoking ban). We ran events outside Parliament on the debate days. On one occasion so many MSPs turned up to support it that we couldn’t fit anyone else in the picture! Throughout this it was vital that SCCS spoke with one voice – it had to be the coalition that responded to questions, and not one individual member body, so I had to give a lot of time to media enquiries, and write countless press articles and op eds.

The UK Parliament were first to pass their Climate Change Act, committing to a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. We suddenly had a bench-mark and an opportunity to make sure Scotland’s Act was even stronger. The headline target for the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 was a 42% reduction in emissions by 2020. We got it, but it went right down to the wire!

We worked so hard – organising public debates, drop in cafes, press articles, marches and rallies, and on the day of the final vote we brought representatives from every Scottish constituency into Parliament, to meet MSPs and ask them how they were voting. In the end, we got the 42% and another 16 or so amendments which included aviation, public bodes duties, plastic bag tax and much, much more. It was a huge moment, and sitting in the public gallery surrounded by many of the people who had written or championed specific amendments was incredibly moving. It was world leading legislation, although we realised all we had really done was get to the start line. Now we had to help deliver against the targets and hold governments to account.

To spread the news of that achievement, I worked with Edrington distillers to create a special edition, 42%-proof whisky called ‘2020’. We had to raise £8,500 in 24 hours and smuggle it into the G20 finance meeting in St Andrews that October – and ship the rest to Copenhagen in time for the 2009 UN Climate Change summit in Denmark. Many of the world’s leaders and key delegates were presented with a bottle, celebrating the Scottish example and hopefully inspiring others to be bold.

SCCS was also involved in the creation of the Climate Justice Fund…

The Climate Justice Fund was another central piece of legislation. Poor nations, especially in Africa, were already being impacted by climate change, and they didn’t have the means to protect themselves. Instead of diverting government aid money, we wanted to see the establishment of a special fund which recognised our part in causing the problem and took some responsibility to help fix it.

In 2012 the Scottish Government set up the Climate Justice Fund, another world first, which was launched by Mary Robinson, previous President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and head of her own climate justice foundation. It was another huge achievement for SCCS.

Another Climate Change Act for Scotland (on Emissions Reduction Targets) was introduced in 2019. How was SCCS involved?

When COP21 delivered its verdict in Paris in 2015, one of its commitments was to reinforce the need to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C everyone had previously spoken about. Some of the base line numbers had changed anyway and we already knew we’d achieved the 42% reduction goal set in 2009, so the new numbers had to be higher. This meant we needed to revise the targets laid out in Scotland’s 2009 Act, and to be fair the government acknowledged that. However, it still took three years of negotiation and to-ing and fro-ing – and whilst this bill was much narrower than we would have liked, we did in the end get what we were asking for, which was ‘Net Zero’ target for 2045 and a commitment of 75% emissions reductions by 2030. This latter target is really significant because it’s not far away!

How would you like to see climate change policy evolve?

We have to take this issue seriously if we are going to minimise long term disruption and that needs more action! We need to be far more ambitious, and make significant changes. The lockdown has shown us what can be done – for example, working from home more, and travelling less. After all, global travel has helped spread the COVID19 virus.

Many people still don’t really understand climate change, and even fewer understand what they can do about it. It’s another gap I’ve come to recognise. We need to make it as easy as possible for people to gain a universal understanding of climate solutions. In addition sectors which require a lot more action are agriculture and transport, which is why I now have a number of voluntary and advisory roles in these areas. And there are other crucial sectors, such as cement which produces 7% of global emissions – which nobody is talking about it but which need more attention.

You chaired SCCS while also serving as Chief Executive of Royal Scottish Geographical Society…

There was a period where I felt I had two full time jobs, and at one point I had around 20 voluntary roles – SCCS was only one of them! My obsession has always been to connect people and promote conversations – I’m a huge fan of joined-up thinking, and one of the quickest and simplest ways of doing that was by literally joining them up myself. Ultimately we are only going to achieve this if we are all pulling in the same direction, and that is going to mean more collaboration, more positive partnerships and more cross-sectoral projects than ever before. RSGS is in a brilliant position to offer that safe, convening, multi-disciplinary space – and we are being asked to do so more and more.

Having stepped down from SCCS, what is your next challenge?

I want everyone to understand climate change solutions. This is the purpose of the new Climate Solutions qualification, which has been developed by RSGS in association with the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling, and the Institute of Directors. I’d like this to be a mandatory requirement, available to students beginning courses at university, to anyone in business, and to every member of the Scottish Parliament.

Climate change is such a critical issue – if we don’t understand the answers, we’re never going to make a difference. Everyone has a role to play, and if we don’t get better at pulling in the same direction, we’re only going to pull ourselves apart.

“SCCS won’t be the same without you, and wouldn’t have achieved so much without your drive and leadership, especially in the early years. Thanks for everything that you brought to the chair, the board and the wider coalition over the last decade.” (SCCS Board)

The post Interview with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland founder Mike Robinson appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

CLIMATE EMISSION RESULTS ‘INCREDIBLY WORRYING’, MORE ACTION NEEDED TO MEET TARGETS

Stop Climate Chaos - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 09:30

2018 greenhouse gas emission data released by the Scottish Government today shows that Scotland has missed its annual target for reducing emissions. Climate change emissions actually increased between 2017 and 2018 by 1.5%.

Jess Cowell said on behalf of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland:

“It is incredibly worrying to see  a 1.5% rise in Scotland’s annual emissions compared to 2017, and the Scottish Government missing its 2018 target of reducing emissions by 54% since 1990. If the Government is going to meet the crucial target of a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030 we need to see action to reduce emissions showing up in significant declines in these figures.

“The burning of fossil fuels is the key driver of the climate crisis, the government must commit to delivering a decisive just transition that ends our economic dependence on fossil fuels whilst protecting employment and securing social benefits for the communities who will be impacted by industrial change.”

Urgent action is needed in the transport sector where progress on emission reduction is still lacking, with emissions in domestic transport only being reduced by 4.9% since 1990. Instead of investing in high-carbon, expensive infrastructure – £749 million is being spent on motorways and trunk roads for 2020/21 – expenditure must be directed towards projects that enable walking, safe cycling networks and accessible public transport routes that will also contribute to reductions in air pollution.

Jess Cowell added:

“After announcing a climate emergency and with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 26, being held in Glasgow next November, it is crucial that the Scottish Government show leadership and place ambitious climate action at the centre of a just and green economic recovery from the devastating effects of Covid-19 felt across society.”

The post CLIMATE EMISSION RESULTS ‘INCREDIBLY WORRYING’, MORE ACTION NEEDED TO MEET TARGETS appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Multiple Crises on a Finite Earth: Water, Climate and COVID-19

Stop Climate Chaos - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 11:13

(Blog by Water Aid Scotland, new members of SCCS)

At the end of May 2020, the United Nations made the decision to postpone COP 26 in Glasgow until November 2021. When it does happen, this conference will be the most important of its kind since COP 21 in Paris in 2015. That year, world leaders passed the “Paris Agreement”, which commits countries of the world to take urgent and transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in climate adaptation. This agreement is seen by many as the last global treaty that has a real chance of saving the world from a climate catastrophe.

The Paris Agreement was passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the city just some weeks previous. Back then, world leaders were forced to take their attention away from the horror and tragedy of those events and focus on the much more intangible threat of climate change. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 across the world, and the very real human tragedy it causes, will again test the capacity of leaders to deal with multiple crises: but this time the solutions are the same. COVID has illuminated common injustices between these crises, the vulnerability of the poorest communities across the world to each. It is vital that world leaders at COP26 learn from the impacts of COVID-19, and the policy response to it, to deliver action that urgently invests in building resilience globally to all crises: health, climate or otherwise.

Whilst climate change often seems “intangible” to many in the world’s richest countries, it is a very real lived reality already for people in the global south. Millions of people in developing countries are already experiencing the impacts of global heating through rising sea-levels, increased frequency of droughts, floods and natural disasters, causing a deepening of precarity in their already marginalised livelihoods. The reason that it’s the poorest who will suffer most from climate change is not just a matter of geography. It is matter of poverty, of global economic injustice, and the associated lack of access to basic rights and services; particularly, lack of access to the most basic of human rights; to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Access to WASH globally is an emergency situation, and global targets to achieve universal access are still hundreds of years away (based on current rates of progress). 1 in 10 people globally do not have access to safe water, and 1 in 4 people globally don’t have access to basic sanitation. If this were true in Scotland, it would amount to 1.4 million people without a decent toilet, and the equivalent of the entire city of Glasgow having no access to water.

WASH has been underfunded for years by donors, and under-prioritised by governments globally. There a number of reasons for this: it is because the solutions to WASH are often not seen as innovative or “exciting”, because it requires a comprehensive approach, and because it is usually the poorest that do not have access: isolated villages in Nigeria, high-density urban villages in Bangladesh, or traveller communities here in Europe. The lack of access is also deeply gendered, with women and girls suffering first and most when access to WASH is stretched.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown light onto the importance of WASH: the first line of defence against this crisis. You cannot stay at home when do you do not have access to clean water, like 785 million people globally. You cannot protect yourself and your family from catching the virus, if you are one of 3 billion people globally who do not have access to handwashing facilities at home. When you do get sick, or if you are a front-line health worker, then you are likely also to not have protection, as 2 in 5 health centres globally do not have access to handwashing facilities, and 1 in 4 do not have clean water on site. The frightening reality is that climate change will further exacerbate this crisis, and decimate what progress has been made on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

When floods or rising sea-levels pollute water sources, people are left with no choice but to drink dirty water that could kill them. When weeks go by without rain, life for millions of people becomes dominated by the search for water. When life becomes consumed by the day-to-day search for water, education and improvement of livelihoods come second to basic needs. When children must walk long distances for water, they often miss out on school. And when adults barely have enough clean water to drink, they are less able to grow and sell food to support their families. Around the world, it’s women and girls who are most disadvantaged. Usually responsible for collecting water, they are in direct contact with the health risks of dirty water: when clean water is harder to find, women and girls have even less time for education or employment. What’s more, you cannot be resilient to anything, to COVID or to climate change, without access to WASH.

Water Aid Scotland has recently joined SCCS to help tackle the climate emergency together. When COP 26 comes to Glasgow, as a coalition we will ensure that the voices of those most affected by multiple crises are heard by the negotiators. We will make the case loud and clear that climate injustice, and water injustice, must not continue. It is vital that we learn lessons and take this opportunity to build a post-COVID planet that ensures basic rights, protection from harm and access to justice are normal for all.

The post Multiple Crises on a Finite Earth: Water, Climate and COVID-19 appeared first on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Categories: NGO

Forest restoration can turn the clock back

Climate Ark - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 08:36
Climate News Network: The ecological and carbon cost of rainforest destruction goes on accumulating for years after nations halt the conversion of canopy into farmland, scientists have found. This implies that to meet ambitious targets, global strategies to combat climate change – including forest restoration – should have started years ago. Tropical forests soak up vast quantities of carbon dioxide released by industrial combustion of fossil fuels, limiting global warming. Burning, clear-felling and ploughing of...
Categories: NGO

California's Blue Cut fire: climate change dismissed as 'excuse' on the ground

Climate Ark - Thu, 08/18/2016 - 15:21
Guardian: James Webb huddled on the hill with his dog and watched the fire advance, the flames licking through the cherry trees, the oak trees, the peach trees, then swaying just short of his home, the last home left in this part of the valley. “We’ve been praying all day long, hoping for the best. I believe it’s working because our house is still standing even though everything around it has been burnt,” said the 20-year-old student. “It’s almost like a miracle.” It was sunset on Tuesday, just 32 hours...
Categories: NGO

Obama previews new efforts to tackle climate change

Climate Ark - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 19:32
DBS: His term may be winding down, but President Obama is determined to continue hammering away at the effects of climate change. In a new video address, the president previewed his latest efforts to address what he called "one of the most urgent challenges of our time," noting that despite national -- and international -- movement on climate change, "there's still so much more to do." "We're not done yet. In the weeks and months ahead, we'll release a second round of fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty...
Categories: NGO

‘Let’s get some perspective': Researchers say species face bigger threats than climate change

Climate Ark - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 19:13
Washington Pot: Tackling climate change is the challenge of the century. But when it comes to endangered wildlife, scientists are arguing that we’ve got more pressing matters to worry about. A new comment just out today in the journal Nature contends that practices like hunting, fishing and agriculture are still the biggest threats to biodiversity on Earth -- and we need to be careful not to let our concern about climate change overshadow our efforts to address them. To be clear, the comment merely reflects the...
Categories: NGO

Zika Virus: U.S. Surgeon general visits Miami clinic near Zika outbreak

Climate Ark - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 14:00
Miami Herald: U.S. Surgeon General -- and dad-to-be -- Vivek Murthy paid a visit to his hometown Friday to drop by a medical clinic and reassure pregnant women as the number of local Miami Zika cases rose for a fourth straight day. Murthy, who graduated from Palmetto Senior High and whose wife is expecting a baby in September, met with about a half dozen women at the Borinquen Medical Center in the Wynwood area, which has been the epicenter for the virus in Miami. Just hours after his visit, state health officials...
Categories: NGO

EPA won't investigate scientist accused of underestimating methane leaks

Climate Ark - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 14:00
InsideClimate: A former Environmental Protection Agency adviser will not be investigated for scientific fraud, the EPA's Inspector General recently decided. The office was responding to environmental advocates who had charged that David Allen's work had underreported methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The North Carolina advocacy group NC Warn had filed a 65-page petition with the Inspector General calling for an investigation into a pair of recent, high-profile studies on greenhouse gas emissions...
Categories: NGO

This is no ordinary heat wave in the eastern U.S., as humidity reaches extreme levels

Climate Ark - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 14:00
Mashable: From New Orleans to Portland, Maine, the heat and humidity has hit oppressive levels for the second long stretch this summer. In New York City, for example, entire blocks smell like hot garbage, and the air feels like a wet blanket, with heat indices approaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit. While the actual air temperatures during this heat wave are not record-breaking in most areas, it is the humidity that stands out as the weather event's defining feature. The dew point, which is the temperature...
Categories: NGO
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