Looking back on climate week

Posted by Neil Harrison on 19th October 2016

This post is by Catriona Jeorrett of the Scottish Government.

On my first day at Scottish Government, five months ago, I was asked to lead the Scottish Government’s Climate Week.  Climate Week 2016 is now finished, and what a journey it has been!

Last year Climate Week ran internally and it was such a success that we decided to roll it out to nationally this year.  Kirsty Lewin and I made use of our contacts to get in touch with public and private bodies, third sector organisations and others who could support and promote climate awareness.  The Sustainable Scotland Network rallied its network with messages of encouragement and 70 organisations signed up to participate.  Lots of events were run, from inspirational talks, electric bike demonstrations, and film screenings advice on energy efficiency in the home. The Fife Environmental Partnership Conference and fair was held in Dunfermline and the NHS ran a Sustainable Health Conference.  

I started a campaign on ‘Do nation’ to get my friends and family involved and encourage them to make a variety of specific pledges to reduce CO2.  I ended up getting over 1,700kg of CO2 reductions pledged which was very exciting.  I tried to get some publicity for my campaign by cycling to Glasgow from Edinburgh (and back) for our Directorate Away Day.  Unfortunately the route was a lot longer than I expected so was 5 minutes late for my first meeting and didn’t have time to shower and change into a respectable, well dressed civil servant first. 

I was delighted to have Sustrans and Cycling Scotland lead tours of infrastructure in Edinburgh and Glasgow for Scottish Government staff, we were so lucky with the weather. 

We timed Climate Week to coincide with European Mobility Week and Car Free Day and  colleagues from Transport Scotland World Car Free organised an impressive number of events in the VQ car park.  The Charettes design was one of my favourite events; a consultation ran earlier in the month to get staff feedback on how to improve our external space. We were then taken through all the options for improvement and the possibilities to create green spaces which are not only enjoyable for staff to spend time in but can support greater biodiversity. It was fascinating and I hope we are able to use it for future development of our workplace.  There was also a talk on beekeeping, which was very popular, everyone loves bees.  I discovered that we have a hive of bees at Victoria Quay and they have managed to produce a small amount of honey over the summer. 

My preferred method of transport is on 2 wheels and I was pleased to have an opportunity to promote it, but it is not practical for every trip.  There are plenty of other low carbon ways to get around.  I had never heard of car clubs until I started working on Climate Week.  This was great news for me; I decided I didn’t need to keep a car anymore and sold it last week. 

I have always cared about the environment but I think Climate Week has definitely made me more passionate and pay more attention to every aspect of my lifestyle, it isn’t just about travel!  There are so many little things you can do to save energy which all add up, I am determined to carry on with the changes I made.