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In last week’s edition we reported on a meeting between Argyll campaigners and the region’s MP, Brendan O’Hara, to press for change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign group – known as Time for Change – Argyll and Bute – believes that the time is now to put people, climate and nature at the heart of the UK’s recovery.
For the next few weeks we will publish the views of some of the people who attended the meeting with Mr O’Hara.
We open with the thoughts of 22-year-old Freya Aitchison. Freya is from Tayvallich and is studying anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. These are her thoughts in summary:
This isn’t really a campaign, it’s just the things that we should all be thinking about if we want Argyll – and the world – to be a recognisable place for our children and grandchildren to live in.
The economic crisis could be seen as an opportunity to get started on the work that we know needs to happen.
I think that many people in Argyll could continue to work from home; people who have lost their jobs could be retrained, or use their existing skills, to do the work that is necessary for Argyll to become carbon-neutral. Walking and cycling infrastructure needs to be improved, trees can be planted, and renewable energy can be expanded and made more efficient.
People in Argyll could also focus on becoming more politically engaged.
Transport and food are the most obvious areas for behavioural change in Argyll. We need to be promoting the benefits of electric cars and making them preferable to petrol or diesel cars.
We can easily bring food production and consumption closer together by shopping and eating more locally and more naturally. Farming in Argyll is generally quite low impact, but does not have the capacity to feed everyone in the area, meaning that we have to buy in meat which is less sustainably farmed to make up the difference. If everyone ate only the meat that is produced locally, we could dramatically reduce the emissions caused from the transport of imported meat, as well as supporting our local market and ensuring that it remains natural and sustainable. Reducing food waste is also an easy behavioural change.
Acting on climate change is all about thinking of others. Across the globe, the people who see the most adverse effects of climate change so far are those who are already marginalised and vulnerable.
Kindness and common decency indicate that we must act with the needs of these people in mind, with the knowledge that if we do not act, ‘these people’ will soon become us and our children.
One thing that I think would make a huge difference would be if we all took ‘our whole selves’ to work with us.
What if world leaders were constantly thinking: ‘what would my children say about my role in this decision?’ This kind of moral thinking would make a huge difference in the future of industry and politics, and the more we educate the next generation, the more influence they will have on their parents.
Everyone can make changes such as cutting down on their meat and dairy consumption, shopping locally, re-using plastic containers, recycling, composting, reducing food waste, buying fewer new things, using a renewable energy supplier, and cutting down or cutting out air travel.
At the Paris Agreement in 2016, 196 nations decided to take measures to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Our current behaviour will not allow for this.
A rise of 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels will mean that large areas of land around the equator will be uninhabitable, resulting in huge numbers of refugees fleeing for their survival. Sea level rise caused by the rapid melting of the ice caps will mean that small island states such as Kiribati and Tuvalu will be submerged. The combination of the loss of arable land and ocean acidification due to temperature increase will mean global food shortages, such that we have never seen before.
The rich will still be able to buy food, but those who are already marginalised and vulnerable will find it increasingly difficult to access basic amenities like food and clean water, further stretching the inequality gap.
It’s not too late to make changes, but it soon will be.
We all need to have climate change in the forefront of our minds when making any kind of decision, be it personal or business. It is an omnipresent issue and every decision, however big or small, will have an effect.