March 19, 2021

Member Blog: Reflections before the Final Weekend

Richard, aged 70, from Aberdeenshire

The daily walk to our mailbox involves a round trip of just under half a mile which, until recently, was shared with a dog. In his absence, discovering the contents of the box has taken on greater significance, as it is now the sole aim of the journey.

Perhaps this circumstance increased my surprise and delight to find therein an invitation to be part of Scotland’s Climate Assembly – emotions amplified by the acceptance of my application. What were the chances, I wondered, of someone who has been engaged in various forms of environmental activism over the last fifty years being randomly selected for such an opportunity?

I approached the first weekend of the Assembly with a mixture of excitement and concern. My principal worry was that our appallingly inadequate broadband connection would prevent me from participating. I also didn’t relish the prospect of sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. I am an outdoors person.

Furthermore, a lifetime of focussing on environmental issues has made me sceptical about the possibility of our species adopting a sustainable approach to life on Earth.

With respect to the connectivity problems my fears were justified, though Juliet at Technical Support helped me to make the best of the situation. And yes, I found staring at a screen all day extremely draining. But as the weekends have gone by, my fears of business-as-usual – institutional and societal complacency – have somewhat abated.

I suspect that most of us involved with this Assembly would have preferred a real, live event that offered much more opportunity for an exchange of views. The evidence base that was presented inevitably contained a wealth of detail that was hard to assimilate, and while it was extremely encouraging, and enlightening, to realise that a range of experts in various fields was on the case, I was relieved in weekend six to move away from detail towards the wider picture. And it was in the breakout rooms in which we came to share views with more and more of the Assembly members that a growing consensus on the scale of essential change gave me a glimmer of optimism as to what we might achieve. I look forward to the final weekend of the Assembly, in the hope that together we might really contribute to meaningful change.