Mandatory climate change classes planned for Scottish politicians, business leaders and students

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MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament, business leaders and newly enrolled university students may be asked to take mandatory climate change studies if plans currently under consideration are adopted.

The module and workshop-based studies would help arm them with facts and knowledge to make urgent changes to society as it emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.

The course was devised by experts at the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the Institute of Directors, Stirling University’s Business School and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Then man behind the idea, Royal Scottish Geographical Society chief executive Mike Robinson, commented during Climate Solutions Week: “The driving issue is we need to tackle the climate issue quickly and therefore we need people who are in positions of authority already, who are working to understand the issues better, to actually take action.

“We can’t wait for another generation of enlightened children to grow up and become old enough to do it. We haven’t got the time for that.”

The studies are aimed at filling the gaps in knowledge, on a scientific and factual basis, with a focus on developing a structured plan.

Online modules are live now, with the first planned workshop to be held in June.

Mr Robinson, who has just been shortlisted in the IoD’s Regional Director of the Year Awards for the third sector, added: “What we’re really hoping is we can make it universal.

“The conversations I’ve had are with six universities is about making it mandatory for students as a matriculation course.

“I’m also talking to others about making it as mandatory as we can in all other sectors – including business – because we need everybody to wake up a bit to their responsibilities.

“The Scottish Government are already committed through their programme of government to put through 100 senior staff on it.”

Anticipating hundreds of people to enrol in the first year, Mr Robinson hopes the course can help reduce the impact of the pause.

Mr Robinson added: “It’s very solutions-focused, it’s imbued with optimism which I think is essential from a mental health point of view.

“I’m not into scaring people witless about this, we want to enable them.

“Even if you can’t necessary impact a solution directly by introducing it in your business or in your own life then what you can do is recognise the need for that change and allow it to happen.”

Among the main areas the course looks at are issues around transport, energy use, supply chains, social behaviours, mitigation and planning for the future.

Dave Reay, Professor of Carbon Management & Education at Edinburgh University, who has been involved with the project, said: “As climate change intensifies, the need for expertise, leadership and well-informed action is more urgent than ever.

“This new professional qualification is precisely the kind of innovative approach required.

“By providing accessible, robust and stakeholder-led training on tackling climate change this course is set to become a core of professional development right across public, private and third sector organisations.

“In doing so it will greatly enhance the capacity of Scotland, the UK and other nations to achieve the rapid emissions cuts required for a net zero future.”

More information about the Climate Solutions studies is available here