Tuesday 10-11-2015 - 09:17
Last year we did amazing work on fossil fuel divestment across Scotland. Later this month, we need to march with the rest of the world to demand global action on climate change.
In Paris this December, world leaders will come together to negotiate a binding agreement to keep average temperatures below 2 degrees warming for the first time ever.
It’s a very big ask. There are a lot of powerful, vested interests which want to derail the process. There’s a lot of pressure on our leaders to stick to the status quo. There’s every chance that the results of these talks aren’t going to go far enough.
That’s where we come in. Our governments will only take bold action if we demand it. That’s why I’ll be marching as part of the Scotland Climate March on 28 November – in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of others on marches in capital cities right across the world, including Cardiff and London.
We need to leave 80 per cent of fossil fuels in the ground, and transition to 100% clean energy by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown. Business as usual is not an option. But fossil fuel companies openly plan to push us to 4 degrees warming.
A world of 4 degrees warming would condemn billions of people around the world to unprecedented displacement, conflict, starvation and death. And the people it’ll hit hardest and soonest – women and children in the global south, in particular – are the people who had the least to do with creating the crisis.
Of course, we’re far from immune to climate shocks here in the UK. We’re a little more economically and geographically insulated than many countries, but all the money in the world won’t magic up more arable farm land during a global food crisis, to take just one example. The magnitude of the effects of 4 degrees warming would threaten civilisation itself.
All negotiations at COP21 – the UN climate talks – have to be driving towards solutions which make sure we keep within 2 degrees warming. That’s why we’ve been focussing our energy on taking on the fossil fuel industry, who are recklessly driving us towards disaster for the sake of short term profit.
Last year, NUS Scotland published the Don’t Dither, Divest campaign pack – explaining step by step how to pressure your institution into pulling their money out of the fossil fuel industry. We’ve seen great action in this area in Scotland, with the University of Glasgow being the first UK institution to divest, along with the University of Edinburgh winning an extremely high profile victory soon after.
We have to link our national divestment work with the global climate movement. Just as no amount of money can protect us in a world of 4 degrees warming, nor can any single national campaign prevent it from happening. Even if we get sustainable development running perfectly in Scotland and the UK, we’re just one country.
We need to be part of universal, unilateral pressure around the world for bold leadership on climate, and COP21 is a key campaigning opportunity. It's as important to act in Scotland as it is anywhere else.
Join me on the Scotland Climate March on 28 November.