Faith, science and NGO communities in Scotland came together in Edinburgh yesterday, in response to Government intentions to water down climate policy. Giving a voice to the head, heart and soul of society, the event underlined the absolute necessity of tackling climate change, and the need to raise the issue beyond that of a political football. The Moderator gave a joint statement on behalf of a dozen faith groups, ECCI’s co-director Professor Stuart Haszeldine spoke on behalf of the science community and RSGS’s Chief Executive on behalf of SCCS and the NGO community. Chaired by two young geographers – Ellie Kirkland and Dylan Hamilton, the event presented a unified front across a swathe of society who wanted to see a renewed focus on action, and encouraged all politicians, business and community leaders, communities and individuals to step up and do more to act.

The three statements reinforced the absolute need to tackle climate change and nature loss, to remind people there is no moral or scientific wiggle room, and to try to lift the issue above politics. RSGS will also be creating a short film, thanks to support from Bluestone Energy, to capture a wide range of respected voices speaking about the need for action in an attempt to help recapture the public determination so evident in 2019.

The statement from civil society pointed out that “People in Scotland care deeply about the need for change and climate justice, and we believe that all those with the power to act must now prioritise action to tackle and respond to climate change, both here and internationally. Doing so isn’t optional, and the sooner we act the better and more affordable it will be; the longer we wait, or delay, the more it will cost in both human and economic terms.“

The Faith leaders statement stressed the morality of taking action: "We believe that addressing the climate crisis is a moral necessity, and Scotland must do all it can to play its part. We are alarmed by the conclusion of the Climate Change Committee, which recently described Scotland’s 2030 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as “no longer credible. This must be a wake-up call to us all. If we collectively fail to act there will be grave implications for the planet - our common home – and for our sisters and brothers across the world who have contributed the least to this crisis and who are already bearing its worst effects. We are calling for unity from all political parties, from business leaders, communities and everyone in society to recognise the risks of inaction. We must regather and redouble our efforts and seek ways to work together to deliver the action we all know we need to see."

Professor Stuart Haszeldine from the ECCI at the University of Edinburgh spoke too:

“The science of climate change forced by fossil fuel use has been known since the mid 1800’s, linked to climate since the 1930’s , measured since the 1950’s and computer modelled since the 1970’s. All these say the same thing – climate is in trouble and humans are the cause. Climate heating effects can be seen everywhere - no models are needed - in oceans, atmosphere, glaciers, rainfall and heatwaves and fires. We know climate changes are happening as predicted, but faster than predicted. We know that humans can’t change the weather, but humans have changed climate. Hundreds of global conferences have been held, and thousands of scientific articles written. The science is clear, but Governments are doing too little.“

Civil society called for more focus. Politicians of every creed, businesses in every sector, public servants, communities, and civic leaders in every part of Scotland, need to come together to solve this crisis. We need to see beyond our differences and to work openly and collaboratively together to deliver the accelerated investment we all need to drive faster progress.

We have an opportunity to get back on track, but we all need to step up. This is the moment to reset, reenergise and redouble our efforts. In working together and addressing the climate emergency with the urgency it demands, we can build solutions that work for everyone. But it will need all of us to recapture the determination we had only five years ago. We need every one of our leaders to step up and act on climate.