Imagining a low carbon future must begin today, declares think tank
Published in The Scotsman, 25 October 2008
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IMAGINE yourself living in Scotland in 2050.
We all now exist in a world where mankind's carbon pollution has been cut back to the emission levels of 100 years ago in the mid-20th century.
We each participate in daily democratic debates through an online virtual parliament, and monitor how our carbon footprints rise as we buy consumer products, and fall as we plant trees.
The world is now home to around 9.5 billion people, which has put increased pressure on natural resources, and the climate.
Despite this, the UK has managed to meet the 80 per cent carbon reduction targets announced four decades ago, in 2008, by the SNP Government at Holyrood, and Labour at Westminster. The average Scottish per capita emissions have dropped from 11 tonnes to two tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The threat of dangerous runaway climate change is monitored carefully by the most sophisticated network of satellites ever conceived. Thankfully, the signs are positive that global temperature have stabilised.
Now, ask yourself, how did we make the critical changes and steps to realise this low-carbon transformation?
Do you think, in common with Ian Marchant, the chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, that 2008 went down in history as the year of excessive indulgence, and proved a turning point, paving the way for a flourishing of green industries in Scotland?
Perhaps, like Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP, you welcome the fact that Scotland backed renewable energy rather than nuclear. As a result, its economy and position as European energy provider of choice was secured.
Or maybe, you saw the sobering interviews with scared children in 2008, imploring the grown-ups to make the world nice for their future, and you decided it was time to get campaigning.
Imagining this low-carbon world of the future was the task set a group of academics, leaders and thinkers by the David Hume Institute, a Scottish think tank.
The inaugural lecture of a series was held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh earlier this month.
The Institute hopes the series will contribute to the climate change debate and raise awareness.
So now is your chance to have a say. How do you think Scotland can meet its 80 per cent carbon reduction target by 2050? Should it concentrate on one energy source more than another? Should this be nuclear? Wind? Biofuel?
Or should the country concentrate its efforts on energy efficiency, and avoid the need for new, large power stations altogether?
As Anne Glover, the chief scientific officer for Scotland says: 'Human survival on the planet depends upon our ability to imagine, to be aspirational in what we want for our future and then to apply our thinking to develop the means of how we might get there.'
We need all the bright ideas we can get.