“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
In that famous speech, President Kennedy admitted that no government can reach its goals alone.
When we think of the climate crisis we face today, Kennedy’s words take on a new resonance – states, less still supranational organisations like the EU or UN, are incapable of meeting the challenge we face.
When the COP26 climate conference is held in Glasgow later this year, the focus will be on these global organisations, world leaders, and states. But the steps to reduce carbon emissions must come from businesses, communities, and individuals. As the official spokesperson for COP26 admitted recently, it is local authorities, not central governments, that can deliver the change we need to halt climate change.
Part of that is about winning local folk over, explaining that the climate crisis is not something happening elsewhere. Just look at the flooding we’re hit with every year, the increasingly warm temperatures that threaten the old and young in our communities, or the impact of unpredictable weather on local farmers and – ultimately – on the places we buy our weekly shop.
This doesn’t need to be all bad news. The response to the climate emergency can benefit places like Fife by bringing jobs. We have a skilled workforce, we’re close to offshore developments, and we have established fabrication facilities. This means we’re perfectly placed to be at the forefront of the marine and green renewable energy revolution. A revolution every community must be able to benefit from.
That’s before we even get to the need to shop local – cutting down on the emissions from transporting goods, and keeping money here in Kirkcaldy, helping our high street thrive with lots of independent local shops.
Last week I visited Greener Kirkcaldy to launch my own programme of green projects in the run up to the Glasgow conference. I’ll speak to local businesses about the transition to net zero, run an eco-poster competition for local school kids, and I’ll shout about the fantastic local organisations, like Greener Kirkcaldy, already doing their bit to tackle climate change.
It’s a small contribution, but all our actions can add up to transformational change. And change we must.
In the words of JFK, “Change is the law of life. All those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
First published in the Fife Free Press