Watching COP26, it feels like there are two parallel but entirely unconnected scenarios being played out simultaneously. One, full of praise and encouragement for Governments and corporate interests as they travel the long and winding road, at variable speeds, towards destination Net Zero. The other has long since accepted that the era of simply modifying ‘business as usual’ is irrevocably over and that if anyone thinks otherwise, then they aren’t listening to the science. Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, argues that these two apparently irreconcilable positions are actually just different stages of the same natural process – based on a five-step theory of grief, first conceived of by psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Step one is Denial. Surely now the preserve of vanishingly few. Then comes Anger. Close to denial but more complicated, and there’s a lot of it around.Third is Bargaining – where much of the COP negotiations are probably focused. Fourth step – Depression – climate anxiety is now a recognised mental health condition. And finally, onto Acceptance – ultimately a good place to be, full of new possibilities, but you need to get there first to fully appreciate its advantages. Sounds a reasonable theory but is it too late to prove itself?
In the most recent briefing…
Scratch a little beneath the surface of COP’s official Blue and Green Zones and there is a massive programme of events, talks and activities to be discovered. Nourish Scotland in collaboration with its many partners has put on a particularly impressive programme of events related to food and climate justice. The world’s food system and the injustices caused by it – the emerging humanitarian catastrophe of Afghanistan yet another example – has been one of the big themes of COP and that focus has provided a new platform for the many community initiatives around Glasgow that are tackling food poverty.
In many respects, onshore renewable energy remains a missed opportunity for the community sector. A relatively small number slogged their way heroically all the way through to financial close, and while these energy pioneers will undoubtedly bear the scars, they’re hopefully now also reaping significant rewards. Now offshore wind looms large and opportunities abound. Community Land Scotland is leading on some discussions with the Scottish Government to develop a Community Wealth Fund – think Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund (but without the oil) – from seabed leases. And Energy4All has ideas for how communities might secure a tangible stake in offshore energy production
Any discussion about resolving the housing crisis almost always concludes that the answer lies with some kind of direct intervention in what currently passes for the housing market. On Eigg the landowning islanders will only sell plots for housing to people who commit to becoming resident. On Uist, a similar decision has just been taken to stop properties being purchased as second homes. Although harder to intervene in the cities, where the price of rental properties can be exorbitant, a grassroots movement in Berlin has just demonstrated what’s possible. Bella Caledonia interviewed one of the organisers.
It’s probably too early to tell whether lessons learned from the community response to the pandemic will have shifted the needle in terms of how the community sector will be valued and invested in going forward. It certainly won’t be for a lack of evidence – report after report, commissioned by different parts of the sector, have pointed to their respective contributions. The most recent, and with an appropriately creative flourish, comes from Creative Lives. Ironically perhaps the report which will have the biggest impact comes from beyond the sector. Just so long as it moves the dial, who cares?
If we accept the inevitability of eventually arriving at Acceptance (see above), then it seems self-evident that we’ll also need to devise a new means of measurin national performance – in case we slip back into living beyond the ecological limits of the planet. Which is why the most recent publication of the 2021 Happy Planet Index makes for interesting reading. With three chief indicators of sustainable wellbeing – Life Satisfaction, Life Expectancy and Ecological Footprint – and with no country meeting all three criteria, the UK is neither doing particularly well or badly but clearly could be doing a lot better.
The Scottish Government has long wanted to conflate its many funding streams to the community sector into a more coherent process so that communities can avoid having to apply multiple times to essentially the same funder. While some progress has undoubtedly been achieved – the relaunch of Investing in Communities Fund next Spring being an example – it’s clear there’s still some way to go. However, with the UK Government now approaching communities directly with offers of very substantial funding, one can’t help thinking that the goal of funding coherence is being sacrificed on the altar of constitutional politics.
Over the years, what the social economy (for want of a better term) might deliver for the common good has long been a point of contention. Never easy to define in precise terms, the advent of social enterprise represented, for some, a genuine alternative to mainstream capitalism. For others it was perceived as a backdoor to the privatisation of publicly owned services. And yet for many communities, it was a means of providing a sustainable route to local self-determination and financial empowerment. Long standing social commentator, Les Huckfield, is about to publish his own thoughts on the matter.
They say you can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs and from the early signs, the Scottish Government has clearly signalled its intent to serve up a very big National Care Service omelette. From COSLA claiming it is an attack on local democracy to professional care bodies and trade unions expressing alarm and calling for caution -most recently over the amount of the design and development work which is to be outsourced to the private sector. The consultation closed last week. SCA found the 200+ page document impossible to engage with and offered this short submission instead.
Established in March 2008, MACC was formed by a group of people who shared the same passion and determination to see the airbase facilities used for the benefit of the Kintyre community. Coming from all walks of life, the group included the site’s former Works Service Manager, local business people and other members of the community. Embarking on one of the largest and most complicated community buyouts ever seen in Scotland, board members worked tirelessly to gain the support they needed. Four years down the line, MACC finally purchased the estate on May 11, 2012 from the Ministry of Defence…Find out more