Hello and welcome back after the break we had for August. We hope you had a refreshing month off and are ready to dive back into a busy edition of the Voice! It feels like a lot is happening on Arran this month, with more and more things we can actually go to now the Covid restrictions have eased.
September starts against the backdrop of the recent IPCC report, and ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests in London, and looks set to be an eventful month for climate action in the run up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November. Climate Fringe Week is taking place between 18th-26th September, with dozens of activities and events organised across Scotland. The aim is to raise awareness and engage communities in climate activism in response to the deepening crisis. Here on Arran there will be several Eco Savvy activities, starting off with an event on Saturday 18th September, and a gathering is planned for Sunday 26th by the Arran CND group to coincide with the ‘Disarm for our Planet’ protest in Faslane. The connected themes of peace and the environment are also the subjects of the ongoing Peace Cranes exhibition in Edinburgh, which runs until the middle of November.
Climate Fringe Week brings to light the commitment and energy of many community groups and individuals, and at a time when the IPCC has asked countries to accelerate their progress on their net zero emissions targets. The Climate Action Tracker shows that about 70% of world economies have varying timescales for these targets, revealing a picture of global inequality that will hopefully be further addressed at COP26. Varying commitments to reducing carbon emissions is only one of several issues holding up the rapid transition that needs to take place however. Even in countries with stable or declining emissions the power of the fossil fuel industry remains; the industry continues to fight action that threatens its profitability and lobbies governments to weaken legislation.
As Sally Campbell’s pieces on the Legacy of Rachel Carson and Silent Spring show, these issues are not new. Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking work in the 1950s and 60s uncovered the role of pesticides in environmental degradation, challenging the agrichemical companies and the huge profits they rested on. Despite the opposition to her work from chemical companies and agriculture, Silent Spring ultimately “spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy”. While we are not at this point with multinational and fossil fuel companies, the model for change is there. In Scotland today and particularly perhaps in island communities, Sally Campbell notes the democratic deficit as the problem. She says, “Multinational salmon companies hold too much power over the Scottish Government which must be stopped”. It is local County Councils and Community Councils that “must be in the forefront of planning in the sea…”, and also in climate change.
In this vein, last month North Ayrshire Council also launched a report, their latest Environmental Strategy. NAC appears to be taking the IPCC message seriously and the Strategy sets out their ambitious plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. And in a piece from Jim Henderson that seems to respond to Sally Campbell’s call, we hear about the upcoming Community Council elections in Arran. He encourages islanders with an interest in the future of Arran to participate. Along with the community actions taking place in Climate Fringe Week and beyond, it is on these kind of locally based endeavours that we need to focus, working in the ways we can. to assume the responsibility that previous lights in the environmental movement, like Rachel Carson, urge. We hope you enjoy the issue, and wish you all a great month wherever you are, Elsa