Ar­gyll group presses for po­lit­i­cal cli­mate change

Argyllshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Colin Cameron editor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­

Politi­cians are un­likely to ne­glect is­sues of an en­vi­ron­men­tal na­ture – as long as Time for Change Ar­gyll and Bute is there to of­fer the oc­ca­sional prod, that is.

The group kept up mo­men­tum last month as mem­bers fol­lowed up a meet­ing with the re­gion’s MP with a sim­i­lar vir­tual dis­cus­sion in­volv­ing Ar­gyll and Bute MSP Michael Rus­sell.

A re­port ear­lier this year 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 UK-wide Cli­mate Coali­tion cam­paign group, how­ever, wants to push that bit harder and 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.

In Ar­gyll, the ‘vir­tual’ meet­ing with Bren­dan O’Hara MP in early July was fol­lowed by a sim­i­lar dis­cus­sion be­tween Time for Change Ar­gyll and Bute and Mr Rus­sell on Au­gust 19, with some 47 con­stituents join­ing in from places in­clud­ing Lochgilp­head, Ard­fern, Dunoon, Tighnabru­aich, Iona, Tay­val­lich, Fur­nace and Oban.

One of the founders of Time for Change, along­side her brother Rowan, is 22-yearold Freya Aitchi­son from Tay­val­lich, who said: ‘We were re­ally pleased that Michael Rus­sell seemed to be as con­cerned as we are about the cli­mate cri­sis and the is­sues it brings, and we will be con­tin­u­ing the con­ver­sa­tion with him into the fu­ture, as we have been do­ing with Bren­dan O’Hara.

‘We started off by telling Mr Rus­sell how wor­ried we are about the big pic­ture of the cli­mate cri­sis, and set out our core de­mands as a group, which are:

❚Ap­ply a Net-Zero Test to all de­ci­sions.

❚Sup­port the most vul­ner­a­ble and bring about a just tran­si­tion.

❚Un­leash ‘moon­shot’ scale in­vest­ment with ur­gency and am­bi­tion to match.

❚Re­cover and bio­di­ver­sity.

❚Seek and sup­port par­tic­i­pa­tion and hu­man-cen­tred democ­racy.

‘Our spe­cific ques­tions cov­ered pro­tect top­ics such as the short­term na­ture of pol­i­tics; the Well­be­ing Econ­omy; how the [Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s] Just Tran­si­tion Com­mis­sion will lead to a fi­nal full stop on oil and gas ex­trac­tion in Scot­land; the im­por­tance of bio­di­ver­sity in forestry and how we can pro­tect our an­cient wood­lands while also plant­ing new trees; the agri-en­vi­ron­ment scheme; and com­mu­nity re­new­able en­ergy op­por­tu­ni­ties.’

Freya con­tin­ued: ‘What we got out of it was that we should go to him with spe­cific ques­tions that he can take ac­tion on and he will help us. He def­i­nitely shared our con­cerns but felt con­strained by the gov­ern­ment at West­min­ster.

‘Bren­dan O’Hara has re­cently signed in sup­port of the Cli­mate and Eco­log­i­cal Emer­gency Bill, which we are very ex­cited about. We also plan to work more closely with the coun­cil as it re­con­venes its Cli­mate Change En­vi­ron­men­tal Ac­tion Group.’

Time for Change Ar­gyll and Bute seems to be gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity and will to be in reg­u­lar con­tact with the area’s MP, MSPs and gov­ern­ment at all lev­els.

A screenshot from the group’s Zoom call with Mr Rus­sell.

Time for Change Ar­gyll and Bute co-founder Freya Aitchi­son.

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