• Stephanie Melnick

As humanity continues to destroy nature, the climate crisis worsens

Conference, we are facing a climate crisis. Though warnings about climate change have been given for decades, the necessary action has not yet been taken and the situation has only grown worse. We can already see the effects of climate change across the globe; in wildfires in Australia and California, in flooding, in extreme summer temperatures in Europe and elsewhere. We are fortunate in Scotland that the effects have not yet been too extreme, but this is not the case elsewhere, particularly in the Global South.

Alongside the climate crisis, we have another problem: the ecological emergency. We are facing a human-caused sixth mass extinction, with several hundred species being lost forever on a daily basis. Our oceans are filling with waste from unnecessary plastics, our forests are being lost as trees are cleared for construction, wood, and to grow crops to feed the animals we then eat. These crises are linked; as humanity continues to destroy nature, the climate crisis worsens; while nature-based solutions can help us to solve the climate crisis.

We must act to halt both these crises. We must commit to climate action; to achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible while ensuring a just transition for workers currently employed in the polluting industries. We must reduce our consumption of waste materials which fill our natural environment, while ensuring disabled people who rely on plastics and other materials to survive or live independently. We must seek to restore and protect nature, without relying on carbon offsetting alone to solve the problem.

I welcome calls for enhancing biodiversity, rewilding and reforestation. It is important that we reduce monocultures and ensure that new forests contain a variety of tree species and are a biodiverse habitat for the many, many species that call forests home. As well as planting new trees, we must protect our existing forests, protect ancient trees which provide carbon capture abilities and produce new trees in a natural manner. But we must make sure that we undertake these measures in a sustainable way while also protecting our community and seeking land reform.

Ownership of much of the land in Scotland is still in the hands of a wealthy few rather than in the hands of the people who live on it. If we want to make changes to create a greener, more equal society, then we must tackle our outdated land ownership patterns which in some places have not changed significantly since the end of feudalism. Land should be owned by the people, not by corporations, lords or billionaires. Instead of grouse moors managed for sport; with community land ownership, community gardens growing local produce can become more common.

I am proud of Scotland’s renewable energy industry, but there are so many more things we can do to fight the climate and ecological emergency. Global action is necessary in order to truly prevent climate breakdown and halt emissions; and I am proud that Glasgow will host the COP26 event next year, at which hopefully negotiations will lead to the global climate action which is needed to protect our planet.

So, conference, I urge you to support this resolution; to tackle the climate and ecological crisis, support climate justice, and seek a green recovery which works for everyone both across Scotland and the globe. Thank you.