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Fife partners addressed ‘the greatest emergency of our time’ at Fife’s COP23.

John-Wincott addressing Fife COP

Over a hundred people from across Fife’s environmental sector gathered at Fife’s COP at the Glen Pavillion in Dunfermline on November 23 just before COP28 kicked off in Dubai. The event saw people discuss biodiversity, energy and adaptation to the climate emergency.

Chaired by Fife Environment Partnership (FEP), of which FCCAN is a member, speakers included: 

  • Ken Gourlay, Chief Executive, Fife Council
  • Councillor Jan Wincott, Spokesperson for Climate and Environment, Fife Council
  • Jack Evans, Central & Fife District General Manager, Scottish Power Energy Networks
  • George Tarvit, Director, Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN)
  • Emma Yule, University of Edinburgh
  • John Lewthwaite, Director of Estates and Facilities, Fife College
  • Nick Bowen, Director, Raeburn Farquhar Bowen
  • Rachel Howlett, Development Officer, Green Action Trust

FEP Chair John Wincott opened the meeting by saying: “The climate and nature emergency is the greatest challenge of our time.” He said the conference was bringing people together to discuss how we can increase the pace and scale of our actions to reduce carbon emissions and make adaptations. “We are also aiming to challenge and inspire not only the people attending but through on-going conversations, the people of Fife.”

“The climate and nature emergency will require changes in how people work, travel, heat their homes and produce and consume food. We will be using this event to encourage people to take action to adapt and change so we can tackle the climate emergency together to help ourselves and the planet.” Collaboration is the key Mr Wincott said.

George Tarvit, Director of SSN, Scotland’s public sector network on sustainability and climate change, gave a reality check on how Scotland is doing on net zero. “Ambitions are high but our policies and plans are not looking great,” he said. Adding that SSN are prompting conversations about the realities of those policies to get Scotland on the path progress.  SSN’s website holds climate change reports for Scotland’s 188 public bodies Fife Council’s report can be found here;

Scotland was the first government to declare a climate emergency in 2029. The plan is to reach net zero by 2045, with interim targets of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040. “We’re one of the first countries to set these ambitious targets and have the drive, resources and passion to achieve it. But how do we get there?” said Mr Tarvit. “It’s not just a public sector problem,” he said, “they can’t solve it themselves.” He said what was needed was not more documents but live action plans.  

Edinburgh University’s, Emma Yule, gave delegate an ‘Introduction to Climate Adaptation’ which she is researching for her Phd. Adaptation is different to mitigation she explained. “It’s how we adapt to what’s happening already and will happen more in the future. In terms of things like ‘weird weather’, which will be the new norm. How do we adapt to the changes?”

Emma asked: “How adapted is your community or organisation? “All 188 bodies are undertaking risk assessments on climate hazards,” she said, “but only four have completed advanced assessments. 43% have taken some action,” she added.  

Nick Bowen, Director, Raeburn Farquhar Bowen and Rachel Howlett, Development Officer, Green Action Trust gave a report on the River Park Nature Network, part of the Leven Programme. The three mile long, 130 hectares are being managed for biodiversity.  The resulting connected networks aim to combat drought and flooding, with the river acting as a sponge and storing waste and nourishing the wetlands for wildlife.

John Lewthwaite Director of Estates and Facilities at Fife College presented on climate friendly actions and challenges in particular for the new Dunfermline Learning Campus. This is the largest Passivhaus construction project in Europe and will be fully operational by August 2025. Mr Lewthwaite explained how simple techniques such as using lighter flooring meant the steel used could be lighter, the foundations lighter thus less resources used overall.  He added that the building’s beams were 95% recycled and that electric heat pumps used. “The building looks normal but it’s actually really sustainable,” he said.

Fife Councillor, Jan Wincott, explained Fife Council is currently renewing its’ climate change strategy to meet new targets. “We want to make Fife Council as good as it can be and that means taking everyone along with us.  A partnership of communities,” she said.

Fife Environmental Partnership includes Fife Council, NatureScot, Fife College, Fife Rural Partnership, NHS Fife, SEPA, University of St Andrews, Scotland’s Rural College, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, Scottish Water, Forest & Land Scotland, Ore Valley Housing Association, Kingdom Housing Association, Fife Voluntary Action, Green Action Trust and us  Fife Communities Climate Action Network (FCCAN).

COP stands for Conference of Parties. COP is the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub team I had two jobs I was the Sustainable Transport Officer for Transition University St Andrews and I worked as a Communications Advisor for Fife Council

I am a passionate communicator with a big interest in climate and biodiversity. I began this journey when I was asked to cover the GM Crop Trials in the Highlands as a young reporter for the Press & Journal. I realised that I wanted to be part of the solution and not on the sidelines reporting it.  

One small change I would recommend getting the train for your next holiday. It’s a fantastic adventure and once you get out of the UK the trains are much more relaxed and you feel on holiday straight away. On the Eurostar on to Paris even the toasties are served with a plate, a napkin and a French accent! 

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub team I worked within corporate learning and development. This is my first foray into the third sector!

Within my last role I designed and delivered learning interventions, many of which was in the area of sustainability. I have also in the past worked in communications and change management. In the last year I was a climate champion with Greener Kirkcaldy where I met many of the new people I now engage with on a regular basis.

One small change that I keep trying to make and would encourage others to make for a lower carbon Fife, is to think both big and small! The small changes (all the Rs!) add up, whether that be refusing to buy non-recyclable products, always remembering to take my reusable mug or water bottle everywhere, or repurposing that wooden pallet to build a flower bed – it all adds up towards reducing our carbon footprint.

Where you have come from before: I’ve always worked in the voluntary sector, most recently on a freelance basis supporting charities with their digital content and online accessibility. Before that I worked at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

My professional background is in digital communications and data reporting. I’m also a Board Member on the Kingsbarns Community Development Trust and help to run our school and community garden in the village.

One small change is to get growing. Whether it’s looking after a few herbs in pots on your windowsill or getting involved in one of the many brilliant community gardens we have here in Fife, growing your own fruit and veg reduces food miles, pesticides and plastics and saves you money too. Plus, homegrown definitely does taste better!

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub

Craig Leitch Fife Climate Hub Manager
Craig Leitch Fife Climate Hub Manager

team I worked for Greener Kirkcaldy and on the Climate Action Fife Project. My role was to deliver climate literacy training and inspire climate action. I also supported FCCAN as their secretariat.

My background is in wildlife conservation where I mainly worked to share the joys of nature with people as a ranger, leading guided walks and as education officer.  

One small change is to talk to people about climate change. Share your worries and celebrate your positive actions. You really do have power to influence those around you.  

Alternatively: buy (and sell)  second hand. There are so many apps out there now to help with this. This means fewer emissions, fewer things going to landfill and it saves you money.