Mary Campbell is Green councillor for Portobello-Craigmillar: Some councillors choose to patronise young people, saying they should be in school, or campaigning against China or India, or focusing on individual lifestyle choices like food or travel. Young people at May’s council education committee brilliantly dealt with such platitudes which really have failed us over the last 30 years. Most councillors, thankfully, seem willing to take the climate science and climate activists seriously. They have backed my proposals to grant climate strikers two days of authorised absence to allow them to put their case to the Scottish Parliament. The council has declared a climate emergency and a target for Edinburgh to be carbon neutral by 2030. However, the test is always about translating good principles into action. Edinburgh needs a radical transformation of homes and buildings: insulating them from heat loss, supplying renewable energy through district heating and building to “passivhaus” standards. Pension investment needs to get out of dirty fossil fuels and into the high-value circular economy of repair and renewal. We need to be investing in our natural environment, massively increasing the amount of trees planted and spaces supporting more species. Public transport, walking and cycling need to be the norm, with extra benefits for congestion, air pollution and safer neighbourhoods. As a city, we need to be looking seriously at our international strategy, centred around regional tourism rather than chasing footloose visitors on long-haul flights. Is it ambitious? Yes, in one sense. But young people are not really asking for much: a liveable planet. The steps to take us there will make us healthier, happier and more connected to the natural world. We need to make this happen, or we will never be forgiven.
Scotsman 10th June 2019 read more »