Mike Robinson, CEO of RSGS and Chairperson of Perth City Leadership Forum with his views on how Perth embraces the opportunities presented by COP26.
I write this article in the midst of COP26 following announcements in which more than 100 world leaders have committed to end deforestation, 150 organisations have agreed to accelerate the deployment of green innovations for the agriculture sector and Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a vision to “rewire the global financial system for net-zero” outlining plans on sovereign green bonds and corporate climate disclosures.
And of course, Scotland has reiterated its targets as laid out in the Climate Change Act 2019 aiming for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. Incidentally, this is tougher than a net-zero carbon target, which commits only to balancing carbon dioxide emissions.
Undoubtedly we still have a long way to go to deliver on these promises, but as a country we remain ahead of most – and as one of the more progressive nations in the field of climate change, we continue to play an important role beyond our own borders.
There are new alliances to build with other progressive nations and regions – friendships, trade agreements and knowledge exchange with the likes of California, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Costa Rica, Morocco, Chile, Finland and the Baltic nations as well as the EU.
This is where we will see the greatest commitments, innovation, education and the future of industry. Working with these countries as friends and allies might help these other countries like Canada, USA and Australia to catch up when they finally do realise that climate action is no longer optional and is a way for Scotland to use its networks for good.
And at the centre of our small, dynamic country sits Perth. The UK, until very recently at least, has been the leading country in the G20 to commit to take action on climate change. Scotland has quite clearly set out to lead within the UK – we have some of the most stringent legislation anywhere in the world – and I firmly believe that Perth has the potential to lead the way in Scotland.
In fact, we could be exemplary. We have a fantastic city with one of the best physical environments in Europe. We’ve already got great assets: Europe’s largest public transport provider, Stagecoach, is on the doorstep; SSE is one of the largest renewable energy providers in Europe. And, of course, farming and land use is a fundamental part of the community, which so relies on the quality of the environment.
Solving the climate crisis requires urgent action, in every sphere of our lives. We all need to step up because we all have a part to play however directly or indirectly. And to succeed it will need all of our ingenuity, drive, determination, brilliance and impatience. In short it needs the best of us, and real collaborative trust and effort.
This is why Perth City Leadership Forum, with the commitment of Perth & Kinross Council and with the weight of Perth Ambassadors behind it, has set its ambition to become one of the most sustainable small cities in Europe.
By tackling the big issues head-on – streets for people, climate change, mitigation, sustainable transport, connectivity, digital hubs – Perth’s leaders, businesses and industry can inject optimism, passion and positivity into this arena, all while engaging people purposefully in taking meaningful action. And we can become the must-have address for sustainable business in Scotland.
Mark Carney, Former Governor of the Bank of England, has summed up the responsibilities of all of us.
“This is one of the biggest structural changes that any of us will see in our professional lifetimes. It’s not only important; it is all-encompassing. And so every business is going to have to ask themselves, and should be asking themselves, how will climate change affect my business today, tomorrow, in the decades ahead, and what am I doing about it? What am I doing to adjust? Not only to the physical effects of climate change, but most importantly, and most positively, how am I adjusting to be a part of this solution which is to move the Scottish economy, the UK economy and, with time, the global economy to net zero?”
Find out more about RSGS Climate Education for Managers at:
Become involved in shaping Perth’s future at Perth Ambassadors at: