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Argyll is leading the way amid a push for a greener, fairer post-coronavirus future, led by young people from Mid Argyll.
Amid the personal and economic tragedy, there are growing calls to use the global shock as an opportunity to build a better society – and tackle climate change.
A recent report to the UK government by independent Climate Change Committee urged Ministers to seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change.
The Climate Coalition campaign group, however, wants to push that bit harder and last week urged supporters to lobby MPs as part of ‘The Time is Now’ campaign to put people, climate and nature at the heart of the UK’s recovery from coronavirus.
During a meeting co-ordinated by Tayvallich brother and sister Rowan and Freya Aitchison, Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara was duly quizzed on the issue by a group of around 24 constituents from Mid Argyll, Cowal and Helensburgh – the Argyll and Bute Climate Change Group.
Among the matters discussed were the five key priorities recommended by the Climate Change Committee: Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future; tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure; strengthening of energy networks; infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely; and moving towards a circular economy through recycling.
Mr O’Hara said during the online discussion on Wednesday July 1 that he acknowledges that the pandemic gives us an opportunity to rethink the way that we live.
Speaking afterwards, he added: ‘I have always believed that politics is at its best when it is organised locally, by people who share a passion and want to effect real change. The Argyll and Bute Climate Change group challenged me to make sure that I didn’t get into the habit of seeing this as a single issue but rather one that impacts absolutely everything I do at Westminster, from economic recovery planning, to defence and security, human rights and international affairs.
‘If there is a silver lining to this awful COVID-19 pandemic it is that going forward, we can do things differently; as individuals, as a country, internationally and of course, globally. And its an opportunity we must take.’
Mr O’Hara referenced the group and their meeting on the floor of the House of Commons the following day, when he asked the Secretary of State for Transport about the group’s dismay that ‘once again the UK Government had missed almost every one of on its emissions targets’.
‘We are very fortunate that our MP Brendan O’Hara understands the urgency of the climate crisis, and is open to some of our suggestions,’ said 20-year-old Rowan Aitchison.
He continued: ‘We desperately need to retire GDP as a measure of our wellbeing and work towards a system that allows people to live a fulfilling life. Scotland is one of very few countries that have made a start on this, pioneering a government system which is based on a wellbeing economy. We need to accept that money is not the key to human happiness, and start putting our wellbeing before increasing our profit margins.’
What do you think?
The opportunity for change is clearly an issue that cannot be covered in a single article. Look out for more views on the subject in coming weeks. And we would love to hear your own opinions.