Tackling climate change

10/03/08 Forestry Commission Climate Change Action Plan 'Harvesting in the Cloich Forest in the Borders  Pic Neil Hanna
10/03/08 Forestry Commission Climate Change Action Plan 'Harvesting in the Cloich Forest in the Borders Pic Neil Hanna

One of the really great things about living in the Borders (apart from the beautiful landscapes and the human scale communities) is the way that people in the same sector tend to know each other.

I’m a forester/ ecologist and I regularly meet up with colleagues from public, private and community bodies. We can converse, argue, agree to disagree or agree and do it all face to face and in a good spirit. That is very healthy.

Eildon Hills ' I took this photo of the Eildon Hills from the Muirhouselaw to Maxton Road as the sun was starting to set

Eildon Hills ' I took this photo of the Eildon Hills from the Muirhouselaw to Maxton Road as the sun was starting to set

It gives me real hope for the future that the Borders will be able to weather the storm of approaching climate change better than some more industrialised and globalised parts of the UK and Europe.

We have land which can grow food in a variety of different ways, we have trees, both softwood and hardwood, to supply our timber and heating needs, we have wind and waves for energy, there are still fish in the sea. We have a resourcefulness and an ability to look out for each other.

All this adds up to resilience and we are going to need it in bucketfuls as global temperatures rise.

The danger point is a 2 degree rise which is predicted to trigger major negative consequences such as the complete loss of the arctic ice cap and sea level rise. We are on trend for a rise of between 3 and 5 degrees which would change the world as we know it, even here in the Borders.

This is the significance of the Paris Climate Summit in December. The governments of more than 190 nations will attend to try and reach agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the reason for these temperature rises. With agreement, it may yet be possible to nudge the figure back down to 3 or even 2 degrees rise and avoid the most dire consequences.

Governments have to take the lead and the current direction of travel by the Westminster Government, including cuts to subsidies for renewables, is not encouraging but we all have to do what we can, not least to egg our politicians on. Did you notice how environmental issues were barely mentioned during the election campaign ?

In the Borders, there are Transition style groups in Melrose, Peebles, Hawick and elsewhere, campaigning to reduce our personal carbon footprints and transitioning towards a more sustainable future. Actions are being taken on growing more local food, community energy, transport (hooray for the new train) and recycling.

It’s small steps for now, but it’s growing and it needs all Borderers to get behind it, like a mega-scrum, all pushing in the same direction!The more that get involved, the stronger it will be, and the braver the decisions which will be taken by our governments.

The Melrose Transition group, A Greener Melrose, https://www.facebook.com/AGreenerMelrose is currently linking up with seven other green Borders groups to run a series of Winter Talks being held once a month in the Ormiston Rooms in Melrose. They are Borders Forest Trust, Borders Organic Gardeners, Earlston Orchard Town, Eco Congregations, Fairtrade Melrose, John Muir Trust and Melrose Paths Group.

Four talks on diverse topics were held in the spring and the attendance is snowballing.

Many of the members of these Greener Borders groups will be going to a March in Edinburgh on November 28 to draw attention to the urgency of the Paris Summit.

Happily, there is now a low carbon train to take us there. We would like to have hundreds of Borderers join us for the day to stand up for the Borders, stand up for the planet.

Contact us through the Facebook page if you’d like to register an interest in going and we’ll book some extra train coaches.