Talking about climate change is an important way of taking the topic to the top of the agenda but getting the conversation started can be difficult, and it’s hard to know where to begin.
Scotland has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2045 but achieving this goal will require changes from everyone. Experts say talking about the issue can be a good first step to prompt change.
Professor Tahseen Jafry, who leads the pioneering Center for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University, urges everyone to start a climate conversation: “Talking about climate change brings a sense of collectiveness around the matter so that everyone feels they have a part to play and is significant in changing behaviour.”
To help, the Scottish Government has created a Climate Conversations guide at netzeronation.scot which contains stats, talking points, and a wealth of information so people can feel more confident when they talk about the climate emergency.
You can choose from a number of topics to focus on, from the general climate emergency to the role Scotland has to play, or you can focus on one of five key areas, listed below, where individuals can start to make a difference.
Transport is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland, with 40% of transport emissions coming from cars. Now the Scottish Government has set a target to reduce car kilometers by 20% by 2030.
Talking points: How often do you use the car and are there any car trips that you could avoid?
If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter. Planning and smarter food shopping can reduce your food waste, and it’s also estimated the average Scottish household could save up to £440 each year.
Talking points: How much food do you throw away each week and are there particular foods you tend to waste often?
Worldwide, emissions from textile production each year is more than all international flights and shipping combined. When buying new clothes, think about the ’30-wear rule’ – will you wear it at least 30 times or is it fast fashion?
Also think about repairing your clothes, sharing clothes with friends or buying second-hand items. And think about the transport that you use for fashion shopping – can you make the trip by public transport?
Talking points: Would you consider repairing or upcycling your clothes to avoid buying more?
Heating your home
Around 20% of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from our homes and buildings. This is often due to the burning of oil or gas required to heat our homes through our radiators, with only around 11% of households having a renewable or very low emissions heating system, such as a heat pump, biomass boiler or electric storage heating.
Talking points: When at home, how can you improve your energy efficiency? For example, only heating the room you’re using at home, turning down the hot water during summer months, better insulated doors, windows and ceilings etc.
Climate change is already impacting nature in Scotland and 49% of our species are declining in numbers. Help nature thrive at home by adding flowering pots, window boxes, bird feeders and a source of water to encourage pollinators and birds to take refuge and refuel. A pond is great, but even a bowl or saucer of water on a windowsill can help.
Talking points: Can you ‘rewild’ part of your garden? Leaving piles of leaves and twigs and not cutting grass can provide habitat.
The Scottish Government has created a Climate Conversations pack to help people feel more confident having conversations about the climate emergency with others. You’ll find everything you need to start a conversation and be part of the united effort to combat the climate emergency. To access the Climate Conversations pack, visit: netzeronation.scot/resources/climate-conversation-pack
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.