Friday 04-12-2015 - 15:19
Last weekend, students from across Scotland joined thousands of people on Scotland's Climate March. We've brought together some of the media from the day, and asked Alex Robb, president of Scotland's Rural College Students' Association, to tell us about the day, and why he was there.
Although I cover a wide remit as SRUCSA President, the environment and tackling climate change is something I’m particularly passionate about, having studied a BSc (Hons) Sustainable Environmental Management, and this year I’ve been supporting students who want to run environment projects and get involved in environmental activism.
This month world leaders are meeting in Paris for UN Climate Talks to agree on a new international deal to mitigate climate change, since the original 1997 Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2020. Science has obviously changed since 1997, and with greater public support for climate action we have a great opportunity to force an ambitious globally-binding treaty to tackle climate change.
While we are all affected by climate change, but the terrible reality is that those who have contributed least will be affected the most. That’s why, on Saturday 28th November I was part of ‘Scotland’s Climate March’ in Edinburgh, with thousands of people calling for serious climate change action.
At the March there were 10 of us from SRUC; considering this was effectively the first demo/march that SRUCSA has ever attended I was delighted.
We were all from a variety of European countries and study a range of subjects, so to not only have a presence at the march but quite a diverse one was fantastic. There are a lot of motivated and enthusiastic students who want to do environmental projects, campaigns and activisim through SRUCSA, so I’m hoping our attendance at this demo will be a stepping stone towards even higher attendance at future marches/demos – including of course the NUS Scotland Demo in March!
The Climate March was fantastic, it was attended by a huge variety of organisations including students’ associations, political parties, community groups, charities and of course many environmental groups. The march was also organised to be family friendly, attracting a broad range of people. The march was amazing to be part of and the music and speakers at the rally kept up the energy of the day. The weather was cold, and one of the speakers was controversial, but even with this I was happy that the day had gone so well!
Climate Change can seem overwhelming but there is a lot we can do from making small changes to our own lifestyles to campaigning for political change. I believe we can make a difference which is one of the reasons I was at the climate march last weekend. It was a big opportunity for the people of Scotland to stand together and make a huge statement for action on climate change. Climate change, poverty and hunger are related, climate change will increase inequality which is yet another huge reason why behavioral and political change is needed. I hope world leaders listen to demonstrators across the world, use the UN climate talks wisely, and agree on ambitious global action. But they also need to consider who will be most impacted and particularly ensure the people who will be affected most are given support.
While Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world, and is home to 25% of Europe’s renewable energy potential, the UK Government is not so strong on this area. They’ve recently cut several renewables subsides whilst looking favorably upon unconventional gas (fracking) - we simply cannot afford to be investing into yet another carbon-based form on energy! In the Northeast, where I grew up, the progress made in transitioning from oil and gas to sustainable energy, including introducing wind turbines and hydrogen buses, has been slowed by the UK Government’s actions this year. This is yet another reason I marched last weekend.
With the Scottish Elections next year there is a chance for us to capitalise on the enthusiasm of the march and push for prioritising renewables, energy efficient housing and decomossioning. Scotland also needs better buses & railways and imporved infrastructure for walking & cyclcing if we are to seriously cut our emissions from transport.
I’m proud that Students’ Associations are often at the forefront of environmental activism; we drive change through our environmental work, societies and campaigns. At NUS Scotland Zone Conference I think I managed to chat to at least 1 delegate from each union about the Climate March. It was fantastic to see everyone’s enthusiasm for mobilising ahead of the march and hear about all the environmental work happening across students’ associations. In particular, students have done some amazing work on divestment campaigns to ensure that our instituions are not only being accountable, transparent and responsible with their investments, but to ensure they’re not using our money to fund climate change!
I want to live in a greener, fairer and equal world and I really hope the UN Climate Talks this month year will be a key step to achieving this.
Alex is president of Scotland's Rural College Students' Association.
Pictures from the day: