Original Source: Source link
EVEN with floods lapping at the doorstep of the Houses of Parliament, the UK Government remains ignorant of the climate emergency and the impact it is having right now on our lives and the prospects for our children.
It is children and young people who have led the activism that is attempting to wake up governments, an activism which is becoming more necessary by the day. It is, after all, their future.
Voices calling for the UK Government to recognise the science and the judgment of the International Energy Agency and stop the approval of the vast new Cambo oil field off Shetland have been loud and clear.
This weekend, those voices will be heard again in Fife which will host Scotland’s first Climate Camp since 2009 near the petrochemical complex at Mossmorran near Cowdenbeath.
Mossmorran has been a pollution blackspot for years, where repeated flaring has caused misery for nearby communities. With 930,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019, it is also one of Scotland’s top climate polluters.
There is simply no appetite among the big oil and gas companies for a full transition away from the very thing they make their billions from and for new jobs to be created in rival, cleaner industries. Worryingly, their vision of the future is also adopted by the Scottish and UK Governments, where the extraction and burning of fossil fuels can continue to expand largely unabated.
In the face of this denial, the activism of young people is very much needed.
Mossmorran has become an iconic flashpoint for this wake-up call. Nearby residents have suffered sleepless nights from excess gas being burned off into the atmosphere, a flame which can stretch up to 100ft in the air.
Everyone has the right to a good night’s sleep in their own home and following repeated reviews and legal compliance cases being raised against the plant operators by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, there is a programme of investment finally under way.
But this can only be a sticking plaster. The communities deserve certainty for their future and it’s clear that Mossmorran cannot provide that.
One of plant operators, Shell, has been ordered to cut global emissions by a Netherlands court order in a landmark case. It will not do this willingly but a legally binding corporate commitment could be a pivotal moment. If North Sea oil and gas production is to inevitably decline in the years ahead then the impact on downstream industries including Mossmorran needs planned for.
A Just Transition Board to consider the future of the plant, its likely lifespan, investment options and alternative jobs is needed. Instead of being led by multinational oil giants, a just transition should be led by the communities that are directly impacted by the site, including the workers.
Ahead of gathering at Mossmoran at the weekend, Climate Camp has been out and about in Fife in recent weeks hearing from locals about their experience living near the plant. They’ll have heard some harrowing accounts of just how disruptive it has been. There has been a big shift in recent years and a real willingness to consider a different sustainable future in surrounding communities.
Having been postponed during the pandemic last year, the Climate Camp will culminate in workshops, performances and demonstrations over the weekend to build on the issues raised by local residents and I hope governments take note.
AT the heart of the Climate Camp’s mission is bringing the local community, climate campaigners and, crucially, the workers at Mossmorran together. The changes that need to happen at Mossmorran, and many plants like it around the industrial world, must be managed in a way that involves everyone affected. The workers at the plant aren’t the ones responsible for the devastating pollution; that lies with the board decisions of the operators themselves.
The COP26 summit in Glasgow is a chance to consider where we stand as a small nation in the world’s pushback against the climate emergency. There will be a growing platform at COP26 of countries who are mapping out their own just transition. States including Denmark, New Zealand, France and Ireland are drawing a line under licensing of new oil and gas fields.
Their focus is on communities and clear regional economic strategies to grow replacement jobs while the decline in fossil fuel industries takes place. They are being honest and pro-active about the changes that are needed and are planning now, rather than waiting for an unplanned collapse to come.
It would be incredible progress if the Scottish Government would join their platform.
With determination we can forge our own sustainable future, one that provides long term jobs, values the environment and protects communities. The young people who will gather at this weekend’s Climate Camp deserve nothing less.