Blogger - Jim Densham, Senior Land Use Policy Officer, Scotland
On Wednesday evening, I got my laptop out 5 minutes before the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland climate debate was due to start only to remember that the sound was broken so I had to (politely) ask my wife to put the online food shopping on hold for a wee while. I’d been excited in the lead up to the event and it didn’t disappoint. I think the whole thing worked really well. It was both interesting and useful, and it was great to hear the political parties expressing their points of view.
When the link to the debate had loaded, I saw 5 politicians at a table waiting patiently for the action to start and the chairman who would be delivering the questions provided by online participants. Questions came up about a broad range of climate issues including transport and active travel policy, energy efficiency, how we help developing countries adapt to climate change, green jobs, biomass, and public procurement. There was also a big call from the online ‘chat’ that flowed alongside the debate for the party representatives to give their opinions on RBS and it’s bankrolling of tar sands extraction. One disappointment was that the action needed on peatlands in Scotland wasn’t covered, despite myself and others asking questions around it.
I also asked questions on how Scotland should adapt to the impacts of climate change. One online participant challenged me saying that adaptation is an easy get out for politicians and that we should focus solely on stopping climate change, so I countered that some climate change is inevitable and we have to adapt to it in a socially and environmentally responsible way. However, this got me thinking. Perhaps we have a way to go if we are to convince others of the need for Government action on adaptation and what that adaptation needs to look like. It also made me think that we need to do better in letting others know of the value of helping nature to help us.
There are loads of examples of how we can help ourselves by helping nature, both now and in the future. These solutions can be cheaper than conventional methods and have many knock-on benefits to us. A good example is how we respond to increasing flood risks from rising sea levels and more extreme storms. By helping nature through the creation of new coastal habitats, we can help ourselves because these habitats act as natural flood defences. This in turn would negate the need to build ever higher and more expensive sea walls and artificial flood defences to protect us.
I think the next Scottish Government needs to think differently. They need to have a long-term view of how land management, planning and conservation can work together towards the goal of a better Scotland - one which is worth living in.
I don’t think I’ve been this excited about technology since we got a colour TV in the 1980s. On Wednesday evening I’ll be getting the kids to bed and then sitting down at the computer with a drink to watch the first ever online debate on climate change. The debate is organised by our partner Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) and it’s exciting that it’s going to happen live, but the icing on the cake is that it looks like we’re finally getting through to politicians just how important climate change is.
At RSPB Scotland we’ve been working hard with our SCCS partners in the lead up to the Scottish elections on 5 May to create the links in politicians’ minds between climate change and nature. We’ve been making sure they know that climate change is bad for nature and that by protecting the natural environment not only can be reduce our carbon emissions, but we can also help society adapt to a changing climate. Visit our webpages this week to find out more!
We want parties and candidates to commit to stepping up for nature and taking action on climate change and the online debate is the perfect opportunity to make sure they’re taking this issue as seriously as they should. The technology lets us put questions to party spokespeople on their climate policies both before the event and during it, and we’ll be doing so in a carbon friendly way as no one will have to leave the comfort of their own home.
All the action will be kicking off at 7:30pm, so do your bit and register and propose your question now. Until then I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the internet connection holds up and the kids go to bed on time!
At the RSPB we’re more used to talking about making homes fit for wildlife than for people, but we’ve just pledged our support for the Stop Climate Chaos ‘Demand a Better Bill’ campaign. The campaign is calling on Government to introduce an ambitious ‘Green Deal’ which will lead to massive improvements in energy efficiency in homes across the country.
If you live in an old draughty home like me, you’ll know why this is so important.
Our buildings are amongst the oldest in Europe, which means they’re hugely inefficient, and with energy prices rising ever upwards we’re all paying more and more to keep them warm. This is hitting the poorest the hardest – over 4.5 million people live in fuel poverty. And it’s bad news for the climate too. Our homes and buildings are responsible for a huge 43% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The problem is so serious that the extra demand for heating over the winter significantly increased the UK’s carbon emissions last year.
An ambitious Green Deal could be the answer
The Green Deal is one of the Coalition Government’s flagship policies and is being put forward as part of an Energy Bill. It would allow house and building owners to make huge energy efficiency improvements to their properties at no upfront cost, paying for it with the savings made on your energy bills.
But it’s not good enough. We need your help to tell Government that the Green Deal needs to be ambitious and made attractive to consumers. If this works it will slash our greenhouse gas emissions, help bring people out of fuel poverty, and save everyone money on their bills, so everyone’s a winner!
Please take a moment to support the campaign and help us get a better energy bill by clicking here and emailing your MP. Spread the word and let others know about it by using the facebook and twitter links.
This is what Mike Clarke said about Demand a Better Bill -
“We’re supporting the Demand a Better Bill campaign because climate change is the greatest long-term threat to people and wildlife, and whilst many of our members recognise this, they are often telling us they feel powerless to do anything about it.”
“A good Green Deal could catalyse this enthusiasm, enabling people to make a real difference by slashing carbon emissions from their homes. But Government must ensure that the Green Deal is ambitious and attractive to householders across the country.”