By David Macpherson, Oxfam Scotland Campaigner
Like many Oxfam supporters, the fight against climate change is a cause close to my heart. From the food shortage in Malawi to the terrible floods here in Scotland at the beginning of this year, these changes have already begun. What was once a problem for the future has become a problem right now. Left unresolved, climate change will bring misery and suffering to those most vulnerable and, in the majority of cases, least to blame. But the science is settled.
We know the solutions: reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stop digging up fossil fuels and use energy smarter. All that is missing is the political will.
That’s why, on Thursday 29 September, I joined a hundred other concerned citizens from all across Scotland to lobby our MSPs to do more to tackle climate change at a special event at the Scottish Parliament, organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. We heard a string of inspiring speeches and were giving some expert lobbying tips, before striding down to Parliament to meet our elected representatives. The turnout from my own constituency, Edinburgh Southern, was so large that
our MSP, Daniel Johnson, arranged a special side meeting so we could all have a chance to speak to him. We were all a bit nervous going in, but Mr Johnson was very easy to speak to and listened patiently as we each set out why we think Scotland should do more to act on climate change. He agreed to take all of the four actions* that Stop Climate Chaos Scotland had tasked us with promoting and explained that he too felt there were lots of improvements Scotland could make to become a greener, cleaner place.
We also had the opportunity to meet our seven regional MSPs and I was encouraged by the level of support for action on climate change across the parties. No-one I spoke to disputed climate change was a serious problem, although there was – understandably – less agreement between the parties when it came to what exactly should be done about it.
It was inspiring to join so many fellow campaigners and hear the stories behind why they wanted their politicians to do more to stop climate change. I even bumped into someone who had come all the way from my home town in the Highlands. Going to speak to politicians can be a scary thought, but doing it as part of a group like this made it a very enjoyable day. And one thing is for sure, if we want to be heard, on climate change or any other issue, the first thing we have to do is speak up.
Our 4 asks of Scotland’s politicians:
1. Improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes: All of Scotland’s homes and buildings should have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least a ‘C’ rating by 2025, supported by increased Government spending.
2. Increase renewable energy for heat, transport and electricity: At least half of Scotland’s total energy use across heat, electricity and transport should come from renewable sources by 2030.
3. Invest in walking and cycling: Allocate 10% of the transport budget on ‘active travel’, helping people to leave their cars at home.
4. Reduce emissions from the food we eat: The Scottish Government should introduce a low-carbon farming scheme in their climate change action plan, to reduce emissions from the food we eat.