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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

What's climate change got to do with it?

This opinion piece is about 3 years old

Susan Smith on why voluntary organisations need to start preparing for the next big threat - climate change

I was well on my way to vegetarianism until I became a parent. My daughter is not making it easy: “I don’t want that,” she says with disgust throwing a Linda McCartney sausage off her plate. I’m persevering though and find lentil and bean-based recipes are more likely to win approval, which is probably good as I’m not sure how ethical fake meat is anyway. But then I’m not sure how ethical avacados are either and she eats loads of those.

I’m not going to lie, the move to net zero intimidates me. I read recently that if we are to meet Scotland’s target to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030, we’d have to maintain our carbon output at peak lockdown level every year for the next decade.

I’m in the process of buying and selling my home. You can get cheaper mortgages if the home you buy has an A or B energy rating – none of the ones I’m looking at do. And the suggestions of how to get there are not cost effective with the savings over three years just a fraction of the installation cost.

I mentioned to the retired estate agent who seems to be kicked out of bed for every viewing I’ve had, that I’m planning my next car to be electric and he scoffed at the idea of streets being lined with electric charging points.

Net zero feels a long way off in spirit. The problem is the years are whirling by and the prospect of devastating climate change is getting closer and closer. I don’t really know what that means either, though. Will we see rising costs of food, fuel and housing, the flooding of our coastal towns and cities, and mass immigration? That doesn’t sound so good.

And here lies the problem. As individuals and voluntary organisations we’re all a bit clueless. What do we need to do, will it make a difference, and why try anyway if you’re job is to look after older people, support families in poverty or combat homelessness? Isn't it the role of big business and government to fix this problem?

These are some of the questions SCVO is trying to explore as part of a new piece of work to look at the role of voluntary organisations in the climate crisis and the just transition to net zero. We’ve launched a survey to find out how much organisations are already contributing to this agenda and what support they need to do more.

An upcoming webinar will also explore the role of voluntary organisations and funders in this issue. We’ll hear from Carol Mack of the Association of Charitable Foundations, Ben Twist from Creative Carbon Scotland, and Teresa Bray from Changeworks. It’s a great opportunity to hear from experts why this should matter to us and, importantly, what practical steps we can take.

As everyone keeps reminding us, the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow in November for COP26, the big international climate conference that world leaders are all expected to attend. Targets were set and agreed in Paris in 2015 but progress has been slow because there’s been no plan to how to get there. The aim of the Glasgow conference is to create that.

I don’t know whether climate change and the transition to net zero is going to be painful or not – I don’t know whether I’m going to have to give up meat, my car and foreign holidays, or worse be unable to afford healthy food, clothing, housing, or transport. I do know that now is the time to try to find out though as if the last year has taught us anything it’s that our comfortable lives can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

After Covid, climate change is the next big threat and the very least we can do is put it on our risk registers – both organisationally and personally.

Caring about climate change – why you need to take action now is on 20 May 1-2pm.

Are you a Climate Conscious organisation already? Your could win Scotland’s new Climate Conscious Charity Award – enter before 14 May 2021