Tearfund – Virtuous Circle Report

Tearfund is an organisation that works tirelessly to help communities around the world escape the very worst effects of poverty and disaster. The same people are facing both of these troubles and Tearfund have great ideas as to how they can overcome them.

I recently attended an event in the parliament which was to launch Tearfund’s “Virtuous Circle” report on the circular economy. Many of you may be wondering what a circular economy is.

“Currently, we have a primarily linear economy. So we make a product – for example, a toaster or a mobile phone – we use it and, when it breaks or there’s a better model available, we throw it away. At this point, all of the resources (energy, metals, water) used to make that phone are lost. In Europe, an average of 95 per cent of a product’s material and energy value is wasted in this way. A circular economy would address these issues, by maximising the efficiency with which resources are used at each stage of the product life cycle. This is partly about what happens to a product at the end of its life, but it is also about eliminating waste and inefficiency throughout the production and consumption chain, from reducing the amount of time cars and machinery sit idle, to increasing the scope for repairability or modular re-manufacturing of used components.”

The report has many key recommendations. One which I find interesting is:

  • Creating the right enabling environment for circular economy industries has the potential to create jobs, improve social outcomes the poorest and reduce poverty

As the spokesperson for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform I have often spoken in favour of a shift to a circular economy. However, it is important to note there is a lot of work to be done before we get to the planning stages to create a circular economy for Scotland.

A circular economy would have many benefits to Scotland. By eliminating waste, the circular economy will be good for increasing productivity and economic growth, improving the quality and quantity of employment, and saving lives, by reducing environmental impacts such as water pollution, air pollution and climate change.

For example, based on an analysis of three sectors (transport, food and the built environment), it is estimated that pursuing a circular economy would increase European GDP by seven per cent by 2030.

There are many benefits included within a circular economy and now is the time for change….

You can download the Tearfund “Virtuous Circle” report by clicking here

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Ministerial Statement – Greenhouse Gas

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment Climate Change and Land Reform recently gave a report to the parliament on Scotland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. Meeting our 2015 greenhouse gas emissions target was welcome progress towards a zero-carbon Scotland, but if we are to continue meeting future targets, the Scottish Government needs tackle the sectors they have avoided for too long. We must see new, inclusive, climate-positive policies, especially in transport, agriculture, and buildings.

You can watch the full debate by clicking here and my question below.

 

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COP23 – on the way to a positive outcome?

Over the last fortnight, leaders from around the globe have gathered in Bonn, Germany, to negotiate the next steps for global climate action. In 2015, the 21st of these meetings – the UN Conference of Parties called COP21 – was a landmark moment in worldwide cooperation and climate change ambition. 195 countries committed to limit “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” This international consensus that climate change is our shared threat and responsibility was monumental.

Two years on, we are in the final days of the COP23 is coming to a close. Even after the battleground of Paris COP21, this is the difficult bit – negotiating the actuality of delivering these emissions reductions. Fiji is leading the Conference, the first small island nation to host, which is a significant reminder of those nations facing the most immediate threat from climate change and rising sea levels. The process normally called “facilitative dialogue” has been renamed “talanoa dialogue,” after a Pacific island concept of using storytelling and talking as a way to make good decisions.

Global politics have shifted since the Paris Agreement was made. While Syria and Nicaragua have now committed to the agreement, President Trump has withdrawn the USA, leaving it in dismal isolation as the only country in disagreement with the aims. However, more positively there are many US cities and states which are taking a strong, positive lead.

The financial cost of climate change has been a topic of significant discussion. Previous COPs agreed to deliver $100bn by 2020, with a higher target to be set for 2025 – but the reality is that current flows could be as low as $17 bn, and the US withdrawal has left a further black hole of $3bn. Developed nations are more heavily liable to foot this bill due to their greater historic carbon emissions and wealth, but have been accused of skirting around the topic. It is absolutely vital that sufficient funds are allocated to international climate efforts. It is some of the poorest nations that are facing climate change head on, despite the fact that they have done the least to cause it.

Climate disaster funds are also a very relevant issue after this year’s extreme weather. In 2017, climate disaster is estimated to have caused $200bn worth of damage. This COP23 has seen some significant financial commitments to climate risk insurance with the InsuResilience Global Partnership, including $125 million from Germany, and £30 million from the British Government earlier this year. This funding hopes to insure extreme weather events can be tackled pre-emptively, rather than too late and not significantly enough.

The question of the legal status of these international agreements remains unsolved. The Paris Agreement was not legally binding for the most part, and enforcement of these international commitments would be very difficult. We will have to wait to see if it is tackled at this year’s negotiations.

It has been 20 years since the first international treaty to cut greenhouse gases was introduced in Kyoto, and with this anniversary in mind the UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged nations to take action now, before the window of opportunity closes.

Very best wishes and hopes for good negotiating skills to all those involved in Bonn!

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Respect for Shopworkers Week

This week is Respect for Shopworkers week. A week that highlights the violence and abuse faced by Shopworkers.

‘Freedom From Fear’ is a campaign by USDAW and is incredibly important to the lives of its members.  Its primary aims are to:

  • Prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers
  • Make sure that shops and shopping areas are safer for customers and staff
  • Negotiate with employers for better health and safety measures in stores
  • Support members who are victims of violence, threats and abuse
  • Give workers the confidence to raise issues and not accept abuse as a part of the job
  • Raise awareness with the public and promoting a culture of respect.

I fully support this campaign as do MSPs from other parties. We all agree it’s important that workers feel safe in their workplace no matter what their job is.

My colleague Daniel Johnson MSP held a members business debate about the issue which you can watch here

 

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Confidence in Breastfeeding

Mothers from Coatbridge Breastfeeding Group have made a series of videos to help new mums become confident about breastfeeding. From ‘what to wear’ to ‘what you need’. Some great advice and encouragement from mums. Mumshelp.aspx

 

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Bield closures

South Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Government has responded to my enquiries about the Bield closure with assurances that the care of the 12 residents currently in Biggar is a priority, and that their needs will continue to be met in an appropriate setting. Two social workers are currently engaging with the families to support and co-ordinate the residents as the transition of their care plans are developed.

The National Contingency Planning Group (NCPG) made up of a number of concerned agencies, including Bield Housing, has met to discuss the effect of this decision on residents, family and workers. Further meetings are planned and I will be following their progress to ensure that an appropriate, local alternative is found. It is vital that the Local Authority and the Scottish Government deliver on these promises. I am still waiting for Borders Council’s response regarding Millfield Gardens.

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Carluke bus fire

This morning a Carluke High School bus went on fire and fortunately it has been reported that no one was hurt in this terrifying incident.

Cllr Catherine McClymont, representative of many of the pupils coming from Forth that morning, and Cllr Lynsey Hamilton for Carluke are making enquiries with South Lanarkshire Council Education Services to ensure that the buses being used in school contracts are fit for purpose. They are also making enquiries into what support will be given to all those affected.

If you have any concerns you would like to raise with either of them please get in touch catherine.mcclymont@southlanarkshire.gov.uk or lynsey.hamilton@southlanarkshire.gov.uk

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WASPI event – Hamilton

 

 

 

 

WASPI Glasgow & Lanarkshire Group WASPI are holding an event on November 14th 5:30-7pm at the Hamilton County Buildings

This event aims to raise awareness of the difficulties women face as a result of the changes to the pensionable age.  All are welcome.

 

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Positive about dyslexia

I am delighted to be supporting Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017. As someone on the Dyslexia Spectrum I understand how much it can affect everyday life.

I was fortunate to be able to attend the awareness campaign and exhibition in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Dyslexia Scotland said:
“We are positive about the skills and talents of children and adults with dyslexia.

We are positive that with the right support, children and adults with dyslexia can reach their full potential.

We are positive that children and adults with dyslexia can be successful in education, work and life.

We are working to help turn the negatives into positives. We are #positiveaboutdyslexia “

 

 

 

 

 

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Successes of Local Apprentices

Scotland’s annual Apprenticeship Awards are fast approaching and I’m delighted to learn about finalists that have been shortlisted in my region of South Scotland.

The awards will take place at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow on 16th November. This is the 16th year of the Awards, organised by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

The Awards demonstrate the importance that work-based learning makes to individuals, businesses and the Scottish economy. They have attracted a record breaking number of entries this year, with entries highlighting the outstanding commitment shown by apprentices and employers, family firms and national companies.

  • Ayrshire firm Braehead Foods has been chosen as one of the contenders in the Promoting Diversity Employer of the Year category. The Kilmarnock company has taken positive steps to promote equality and diversity across the business.
  • Spirit AeroSystems engineer Anna Manson is hoping for a win in the Apprentice Ambassador category. Monkton-based Anna helped raise awareness of apprenticeships during Scottish Apprenticeship Week in March.
  • Forestry company, BSW Timber Group, based in Earlston, has been chosen as one of the contenders in the Large Employer of the Year category of the Awards

Good luck to each of them!

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