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After COP26, what next? Scotland’s Climate Future

10 December 2021

Our Scotland’s Climate Festival team kicked off the national event series with a panel discussion on COP26 and what it meant for Scotland’s climate future on Tuesday 7 December. Our Chief Executive Barry Fisher chaired the online event and was joined by Zarina Ahmad, climate change communicator and trainer, Kaisie Rayner, Climate Lead at Royal London, Dr. Matt Winning, comedian and environmental economist, and Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work. It was a lively discussion (among panellists and attendees!) during which the speakers grappled with what it means to be “beyond the era of ambition and into the decade of action”, as the Minister said.

You can watch the full recording on our YouTube channel.

When discussing COP26, it was a mixed bag of reactions – Zarina was concerned that a lot of what we had seen was government and corporate greenwashing. Kaisie was optimistic about the role of finance while admitting that pledges made at previous COPs hadn’t got us very far in the past as emissions had continued to rise. Matt felt that on an aggregate global level, COP26 was a success, however if you were from a low-lying island nation or another place severely affected by climate change right now, it had been a disaster. One aspect all speakers agreed on was that the mass mobilisation of society around this COP made it stand out from any that had come before.

The following conversation centred on how best to communicate climate change, whether system change or individual action was more important, the motivations of finance for getting involved in climate negotiations and the importance of a just and fair transition.

Some highlights included:

“You have to start by talking about the individual things, you have to initially start with talking about things people know in their day-to-day lives. If you go straight in with the “we need to change the system”, people tend to switch off a little bit.” Matt Winning

“Finance isn’t getting involved because they’ve worked out how to make money from climate change, it’s because they’ve done the 30-year scenario plan and they know that if they don’t change, no-one’s going to make any money…The governments bailed out the finance sector in 2008 and it’s time for finance to step up and help bail out society.” Kaisie Rayner

“I’ve been in parliament since 1999 in Scotland…and the debates, the spending priorities, the policies, today are radically different to where they were just a few years ago. If you’d said even five years’ ago that we’d be dedicating so much parliamentary time and so much of the budget to climate change, you wouldn’t have believed it. So, we do have to take hope from that”. Richard Lochhead

“We might be all in it together, but we aren’t all in the same boat, we’re all at different starting points and we can’t leave anyone behind – this is what we need to talk about when we talk about a just and fair transition”. Zarina Ahmad

It was a great evening and we’re very thankful to the speakers for joining us. Don’t miss more inspiring events for Scotland’s Climate Festival coming up in 2022! This includes a discussion on Women in Agriculture on 12 January, and a screening of new documentary Scotland: Our Climate Journey on 26 January. You can register for these free online events on the website now, and we will continue to add to the series over the coming weeks.

We will also be hosting panel discussions, screenings, online and in person events during early 2022 and we would love to see you there.

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