Three high school activists from Peebles and Langholm have challenged local politicians to commit to stronger action on the climate emergency. At a panel discussion in advance of May’s Holyrood election, the students grilled MSPs and candidates from five political parties.
Peebles students Emily McIntyre and Ruby Finn, and Langholm’s Cerys Gough posed questions contributed by young people from across the South Scotland parliamentary region, in front of an online audience of seventy.
Introducing the “The Future Speaks” event, a spokesperson said “Climate change will obviously affect young people more than anybody else, and in Scotland, the great thing is that anybody over sixteen is eligible to vote. With this event, we’ve given young people a platform to meet with local MSP candidates and quiz them about their climate promises.”
Politicians on the panel were Claudia Beamish MSP (Labour), Catriona Bhatia (Liberal Democrat), Finlay Carson MSP (Conservative), Màiri McAllan (SNP) and Laura Moodie (Scottish Greens). They faced tough questions on how they would combat global heating through changes in animal husbandry, waste management, sustainable transport and reforestation, and they were challenged on the lack of climate education in schools.
Reflecting on the politicians’ responses, Ruby Finn said “The reason we haven’t acted clearly isn’t because of lack of knowledge but because of something more sinister that is harder to fix.”
Cerys Gough added: “We are standing on the edge of the cliff, and the choices we make in the next few years will affect all our futures.”
Summing up, Emily McIntyre said: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to speak to politicians about the climate crisis. I hope they turn the ideas we discussed into action.”
The event was the second in a series of eight which are taking place across Scotland in each of the Holyrood “second vote” parliamentary regions. The organisers are Teach The Future, a youth-led campaign whose aim is “to urgently repurpose the entire education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis”. A video of the discussion is available on the Youtube channel of the co-organisers, Sustainability Partnerships.
The event series is backed by numerous organisations including Dumfries and Galloway Council, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, The Institute of Physics and The Institute of Engineering and Technology.