Looking back at our Summer Weekender

This July,  Friends of the Earth Scotland held our first ever Summer Weekender. Over 100 people came together in the beautiful settings of Wiston Lodge for three days of ideas and action to build a strong and diverse climate movement to create the Fossil Free Scotland we need.

With an exciting programme bursting at the seams with workshops, panel debates, practical sessions and film screenings, the event brought together people from across Scotland to network, learn, make friends and share strategies.

We got stuck into campaigning with workshops on fracking, migrant rights, air pollution, the Climate Bill, food sovereignty, divestment, community energy and more. We developed our activist skills with participatory sessions on sustaining groups, lobbying, digital campaigning, know your rights,non-violent direct action and avoiding burn out. And we hosted a drop-in creative space for people to take a go at upcycling, lino printing, banner-making, singing and theatre of the oppressed.

Here’s a sample of some of the feedback from participants, who ranged from 2 to 82 years old!

The FOES Weekender was just terrific! Two things stood out: firstly, everybody talked to everybody else – there were no cliques or ‘in-groups’, and the safe space meant that everybody, irrespective of background or knowledge, could have their point of view listened to. Secondly, it was a gathering of wonderful people, involved in the most amazing projects, and it was a privilege to spend time with them all. Overall hugely inspiring and energising – well done FOES!!

– Michael

I found the gathering inspirational. When so many people gather together with common passions about saving the planet the energy is palpable. It’s so beneficial to share ideas and experiences. Thank you to all the organisers.

– Jenny

A brilliant weekend with many varied workshops and activities, music was good with Caro Bridges on the Friday night and the Ceilidh Science band on the Saturday night. I watched The YERT film screening too which was very interesting. Although I am not a vegan I actually found the food very palatable and something different to my normal tastes. The walk up Tinto Hill on Sunday morning was an experience simply for the view and seeing all the wind turbines. It was good to talk to other like-minded people and hear their points of view and I intend going to further Summer Weekender events in the future.

– Neil

“An absolutely wonderful weekend with so much to do, so many people to meet, and a great atmosphere. The atmosphere created at the Summer Weekender was absolutely wonderful and that requires a lot of work. I’ve learnt a lot about the Climate Bill which I’m going to be talking about at our next Friends of the Earth Edinburgh public meeting.”

– Mark

“I loved the workshops which included self-care, with Alastair McIntosh and Tripod. I’m going to focus more on meditation and sorting some personal problems which will have a good impact on my commitment and motivation in activism. The event organisation was very good: diversity, interest in building safe spaces. I loved the diversity in the group.”

–Young Friends of the Earth Scotland member

And what’s next? We hope the Summer Weekender has left you feeling energised and eager to get stuck into environmental activism in Scotland. Here’s three things you can do now:

(1) Join Friends of the Earth Scotland

We don’t take money from corporations which means we rely on our members to help keep us radical and independent. A donation of just £3 a month will enable us to keep campaigning for climate justice in Scotland and globally.

(2) Take action on the Climate Bill

With the current consultation on new climate legislation, now is the time to take action to let the Scottish Government know that we need much tougher targets and stronger action on emissions to be true to the Paris Agreement.

(3) Find your local group

Our local groups are at the forefront of working for an environmentally sustainable and socially just world. Find one near you to get stuck into local campaigns, events and projects, including the upcoming Fossil Free international days of action this October. We’ll be taking action to say no to fracking – not here, not anywhere!

Posted in Activism, Air Pollution, Climate Justice, Divest / Reinvest, Fossil Free, Fracking, Young FoES | Leave a comment

The Summer Weekender is nearly here!

Our biggest ever residential activism gathering will take place in Biggar, South Lanarkshire from this Friday 14th to Sunday 16th July. We’ve been planning it for months – getting speakers organised, sorting out catering and somewhere to sleep for 90 people, and putting the programme together. We’re looking forward to welcoming new faces, people who’ve supported our fracking and divestment campaigns and, of course, our dedicated local group activists.

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UK’s second largest trade union votes to divest pensions

UNISON members have campaigned for ethical inevstment for many years. Photo by Clint Iguana.

UNISON, one of the two largest trade unions in the UK, with over 1.3 million members, has adopted formal policy to support divestment from fossil fuels at its annual conference.

The Union, which represents local government members, many of whose pensions are heavily invested in fossil fuels, voted unanimously to:

“seek divestment of Local Government Pension Schemes from fossil fuels over five years giving due regard to fiduciary duty”

The new policy follows two years of impressive mobilisation by UNISON grassroots members. UNISON Scotland was fundamental in leading the change after forming the   Reinvest Scotland campaign with Friends of the Earth and Common Weal in 2016. Continue reading

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Methodist Church’s investments going green after Scottish members push for change

Climate change campaign meeting at Stirling Methodist Church, February 2017. Photo by Ric Lander.

The Methodist Church, the Britains 4th largest church, has taken a big step towards divesting from fossil fuels, and members of Stirling Methodist Church made all the difference. Continue reading

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The environment dimension of Brexit

In 1993 the Norwegian Environment Minister called John Gummer, the UK Environment Secretary, a drittsekk – a shitbag – because of the massive impact on Scandinavian lakes and forest of acid rain caused by emissions from British power stations. Throughout the 1980s Britain had been known as ‘the Dirty Man of Europe’ because of our widespread pollution of air, land and water.

The European Union is far from perfect but it has been the source of almost all environmental legislation and standards in Scotland.  The air we breathe, the water we drink, the products we buy and the food we eat are all cleaner and safer because of 40 years of EU rules.  Collective EU targets on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency have pushed the UK further than we would otherwise have gone.  And the European Courts have helped concentrate the minds of Ministers on meeting environmental standards and protecting nature properly.

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Posted in Activism, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Fossil Free, Fracking, Green Economy, Low Carbon Power, Oil, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Trade, Transport | Leave a comment

Who will really benefit from the new Air Departure Tax?

This afternoon, MSPs will approve the Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill, giving the Scottish ministers the power to set air travel tax for the first time. But while devolving the tax from Westminster control to Holyrood is fairly uncontroversial, what the Scottish Government plan to do with that power is a different matter.

© Bernal Saborio CC BY-SA 2.0

The devolution of aviation tax was recommended by the Smith Commission after the independence referendum, and delivered in the Scotland Act 2016. UK-controlled Air Passenger Duty (APD) – the tax that is added to every adult ticket – will cease to apply in Scotland, and the Bill being voted on today will replace it with a Scottish-controlled Air Departure Tax (APD).

Air Passenger Duty and Air Departure Tax are essentially very similar, but they diverge in one important way: the SNP Scottish Government has promised to cut its new tax to half the level of the previous APD by the next Scottish Parliament election, and abolish it altogether “when resources allow”. Continue reading

Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Fossil Free, Politics & Parliament, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland needs to build on climate success

Last week brought the good news that Scotland had met its latest climate target, with real emissions of greenhouse gases 3% lower than the year before.   This is great progress and shows that we are firmly on track to meet our 2020 climate target of reducing emissions by 42% from 1990 levels.

This target and the target of 80% emissions reduction by 2050, were agreed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament as the right figures to ensure Scotland made a proper contribution to the fight to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade.

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Posted in Climate Change, Climate Justice, Divest / Reinvest, Fossil Free, Green Economy, Low Carbon Power, Nuclear, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Transport, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Low Emission Zones could help ensure our right to clean air

We can’t see it, but air pollution continues to plague Scotland’s busiest places. Two tiers of legal protections – both Scottish standards and European law – are being broken years after a deadline. There are 38 designated Pollution Zones across 14 Council areas where levels of toxic air are deemed unsafe.

As a result of the Scottish Government’s failure to act on this health crisis, we are forced to breathe in toxic gases and particles that have been linked with cancer, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and poor lung development in kids. This invisible killer is responsible for over 2500 early deaths in Scotland each year.

Air quality monitoring station in Glasgow

Air quality monitoring station Glasgow

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Major investment manager BMO divests

BMO Asset Management announced on Monday they will divest their entire ‘Responsible’ range of funds from fossil fuels by 2020.

You probably haven’t heard of BMO, but they are quite a major investment firm and their responsible funds are worth £1.5 billion. Continue reading

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4 May elections: do your candidates support green investment?

Fossil free activists across Scotland have been busy asking election candidates to sign our petition for councils to divest from fossil fuels.

On 4 May new councillors will be elected across the country. They will have the power to get councils out of polluting companies to instead invest the £35 billion local government pension scheme in a way that doesn’t drive climate change.

The following candidates have signed our petition:

John Dennis Independent Dumfries and Galloway
Laura Moodie Green Dumfries and Galloway
Lesley Brennan Labour Dundee
Richard McCready‏ Labour Dundee
Laura Forrest SNP East Lothian
Fraser McAllister SNP East Lothian
Elisabeth Wilson Liberal Democrats East Lothian
David Allison Green East Renfrewshire
Chas Booth Green Edinburgh City
Steve Burgess Green Edinburgh City
Mary Campbell Green Edinburgh City
Dan Heap Green Edinburgh City
John Knox Liberal Democrats Edinburgh City
Sara Marsden Green Edinburgh City
Iain McKinnon-Waddell Green Edinburgh City
Claire Miller Green Edinburgh City
John Nichol Green Edinburgh City
Alexander Staniforth Green Edinburgh City
Evelyn Weston Green Edinburgh City
Debra Pickering Green Falkirk
Janine Rennie‏ Independent Falkirk
Fergus Cook Green Fife
Craig Duncan Solidarity Fife
Karen Majoram SNP Fife
Andy Collins Green Fife
David Hansen Green Fife
Bill Mair Solidarity Fife
Fiona McOwan Green Fife
Cass MacGregor Green Glasgow City
Andrew Smith Green Glasgow City
Martha Wardrop Green Glasgow City
Chris Ballance Green Highland
Sandra Owsnett Green Highland
Ian Baxter Green Midlothian
Malcolm Spaven Green Midlothian
John Mitchell Liberal Democrats Moray
Johnny McCloskey Independent North Ayrshire
Robert Kay Green North Lanarkshire
Simon Tarry Independent Orkney
Elspeth Coutts Green Perth & Kinross
Sarah Anderson Green Renfrewshire
Emma McShane Green Renfrewshire
Catriona Hamilton Green Scottish Borders
Craig Dalzell Green South Lanarkshire
Isobel Dorman SNP South Lanarkshire
Linda Hendry Green Stirling East
Jim Bollan Unite/Community Party West Dunbartonshire
Sean Quinn Green West Dunbartonshire
Elaine Mallon Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition West Lothian
Scott Rogers Labour West Lothian

Help us grow this list! You can find who’s standing for the 4th May elections in your area using this tool created by our friends at Walk Cycle Vote. You can then email your candidates using our template message or send them a Tweet.

If you’re a candidate and you want to be added to this list simply sign our petition at reinvest.scot/join.

  • Find out more about why councils should divest from fossil fuels by exploring our dedicated site Reinvest Scotland.

This blog was updated with additional signatures at 5pm on 3rd May 2017.

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