By Fiona WallaceSCCAN logo

The Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN) event ‘Low Carbon Scotland- building the vision from the bottom up’, was held on 24th February in the highly acclaimed Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. The day began with a welcome and introduction from Philip Revell, project manager of Sustaining Dunbar and current chair of SCCAN and Lesley Riddoch, journalist and broadcaster who we recently welcomed at the Fife Diet AGM. It was a great opportunity for networking with like minded organisations such the transition groups: Greener Kirkcaldy, Sustaining Dunbar, A Greener Melrose, South Seeds and many more.

The speakers of the day provided greater insight into the vision for a low carbon future and allowed me to put faces to names for the likes of Rob Hopkins, co founder of the transition network. For those like me who are a little fuzzy around the Transition concept, their main aim is ‘to inspire, encourage , connect, support and train communities as they adopt and adapt the transition model on their journey to urgently rebuild resilience and drastically reduce C02 emissions’. Rob’s theme of the morning was ‘the power of just doing stuff’. His message highlighted community empowerment with concepts such as the Bristol Pound and Transition Streets. Transition Streets is a form of behaviour change which engages local communities, whilst encouraging them to live more sustainably, thus saving money and carbon and creating new friendships. What’s to lose?

Low carbon communities

 Pam McLean, managing director of ‘The Surefoot Effect’ was up next, promoting sustainable societies through value-based behaviour. She made mention to Professor Tim Jackson, professor of sustainable development and how, as individuals, we seem so keen to “spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last for people who don’t care”. This struck a chord with me and summed up where in society we are going wrong and how we need to alter our behaviour in order to live more sustainably.

Post lunch, the Fife Diet team attended the food workshop which was facilitated by Pat Abel, chair of Transition Edinburgh South and Pete Ritchie (another face I was hoping to put a name to, as I had read so much about him), executive director of Nourish Scotland. The workshop was set in 2024, our vision and hopes for a decade down the line under the themes of production, consumption and distribution.

There was a lot of discussion; predictions and hopes were voiced such as: organic becoming the norm, improvement in the quality of meat, a greater range of meats available to the wider market and that land ownership would become more equal. This would come with the possibility of converting unused areas of land, such as golf courses, into community-run gardens with the possibility of being a home to small scale meat producers. The workshop was inspiring and encouraging to see, as the room ignited with passion for quality, sustainable food . Ears were pricked at the mention of the food coop and latched onto Elly’s co-op synopsis in appreciation.

The second workshop entitled ‘behaviour and culture change’ was facilitated by Pam McLean, Alex Hilliam, behaviour change specialist at Change-works, and Angus Hardie, director of Scottish Community Alliance. This sparked similar conversations about the vision for 2024, suggesting local empowerment as a key feature, echoing Lesley Riddoch’s talk in which she highlighted the lack of democracy and control we have over our own communities.

The talks and discussions on local government were particularly interesting and the presentation of the ideas behind the common cause theory for behavioural change gave us some useful insights into how to better communicate our carbon messages here at Fife Diet.