by Alex Irwin
2050 Climate Group is a Scottish, volunteer-led, youth-run charity with a mission to empower young people to take action on the climate crisis since 2014.
We aim to equip young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to take action on the climate crisis through our young leader’s development programme (YLDP). We also empower young leaders to take action on climate change by giving them room to collaborate with others, share skills and develop projects through our leaders network.
In addition to this, we enable young leaders to influence political action through our policy engagement work. We acknowledge that climate change is political and want to give young people in Scotland a voice in the decision making process. 2050 Climate Group’s policy team, of which I am a part, seeks to do this in a number of ways. Namely:
1. We seek to educate young leaders on climate change policy issues
We assist the team who organise the YLDP with the policy aspects of the programme. The policy modules of the YLDP have included speakers such as Ross Grier MSP, Dr Rebecca Willis and Jonathon Shafi.
Over the past eighteen months we have organised workshops and events which sought to inform and engage young people on specific issues. For example, we held an event on the effects Brexit may have on environmental and climate change policy. Experts from law, politics and conservation provided insight on the implications of Brexit.
We also hosted a series of political speed-dating events. The first included representatives from all of the parties in the Scottish Parliament and gave young people the opportunity to find out how they could get involved in a political party and what the parties were doing on climate change policy.
The second event included representatives from a number of charities and organisations who campaign on climate change. Attendees were invited to learn about a wide spectrum of campaigns and how they could get involved.
Most recently we hosted an online event on ideas for creating an economy that worked for both people and the planet. We explored how a circular and wellbeing economy may help the planet while learning about the role that could be played by trade unionists and the importance of a just transition to a zero carbon economy.
2. We respond to consultations so young people’s views are taken into account
We survey our young leaders and those that follow us on social media as well as carrying out focus groups on specific policy. The data gathered is used to respond to policy consultations.
Recently we responded to the Scottish Just Transition Commission Report, focusing on ensuring a just transition in the transport sector. We have also lodged responses to the Transport Bill, the Housing for 2040 Commission, the Climate Change Bill and the Good Food Nation.
The policy team’s work has had challenges. As a volunteer led charity, everyone in the policy team balances busy careers, further study, hobbies and a social life along with volunteering. It is essential we share responsibility to make sure no one has more on their plate than they can cope with. One of the other challenges 2050 Climate Group faces is engaging young people in policy discussions. Young people are often disinterested and disillusioned with politics but we have found that the policy YLDP modules and our events exceed participants’ expectations.
As well as the challenges, 2050 Climate Group’s policy team has had numerous successes. In 2018 we were invited to speak in Scottish Parliament, as part of the Stage 1 scrutiny process of the Climate Change Bill. Siri Pantzar, one of our policy volunteers, gave evidence to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. She called for a net-zero emissions target, and for young people to have a seat at the table in setting out future climate policy. We were also invited to have some of our board members and volunteers take up roles influencing policy on the Just Transition Commission and the Climate Emergency Response Group, to ensure that the views and experiences of young people are represented.
If you want to find out more about how to get involved with 2050 Climate Group:
Alex is an operational volunteer in 2050 Climate Group’s policy team. By day Alex is a solicitor at Davidson Chalmers Stewart LLP’s rural business, renewable energy and healthcare teams, working with a variety of clients across Scotland. In her spare time she can usually be found at a yoga class, travelling or baking.