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14 February 2017

Tackling Climate Change – One Person at a Time

Today I want to talk about personal change.

When someone mentions climate change – they immediately think global change. Sometimes it can be hard to see how something so big can relate to our everyday lives. It might even make us feel helpless.

There is a lot of work to be done but personal change is one of our greatest tools. Ordinary people can be the vanguard on climate change ­– it all starts with personal change.

In my own life I’ve instituted huge personal changes. How I get around has been a huge one. About 15 years ago I used to drive 40,000 miles a year. That’s a vast distance – which comes with vast levels of emissions. I decided I had to do something about that. 15 years later and now I drive maybe 10,000 miles a year in a hybrid car – giving me 60 miles a gallon instead of 30 miles a gallon.

But the change didn’t end with my car. I make use of public transport as much as possible. And if I’m not travelling too far I walk. I tend to walk between 5 and 7 miles a day. Not only do I avoid using emission producing vehicles – but I get to improve my health too!

Personal change - all it took was being a little more conscious of what I was doing. By changing the little things I contribute to changing the big ones; like climate change.

But transportation isn’t the only habit I improved. I now make sure I shop locally. It may sound strange but shopping locally can have a huge impact on climate change. I try and make sure that I get produce that’s been grown and raised in the North-east.

In the North-east, our fish are one of the most sustainable resources we have. That should be a huge selling point for fish lovers and people who want to fight against climate change.

Remember when you shop locally you are buying products that haven’t had to travel several thousand miles of ocean. When products travel those kinds of distances they come with huge levels of emissions.

These kind of personal changes allowed me to combat climate change and help local businesses. This is great for local producers because not only do they save on distribution costs but they get to see their products reinvested in their own communities.

Climate change isn’t something happening somewhere else. Nor is it something that’s happening in the future. It’s something that’s happening now and it’s happening to us.

The thing is – I can’t beat it alone. No one individual can. But if we all make an effort to improve our habits – we can do anything.

All of humanities great achievements started with a single thought, a single action and a single person. Our ability to change and improve ourselves is the most human thing about us. From making those personal changes, one small step at a time, everyone will be able to overcome climate change.

31 January 2017

Fishing Sell-out Looming

Here we are again. A hair’s breadth from a Tory sell-out.

Time and again the Tories speak only for political gain – whether those words are true or utterly false. This trend goes from the top to bottom. Theresa May and all of her backbenchers will exploit whatever means necessary.

Even locally the Tories do this. Just this month they’ve misrepresented information on the Scottish Ambulance Service targets which had to be corrected.

One would hope these are just mistakes but that appears unlikely. The misinformation appears calculated. And if this kind of calculation is standard behaviour, it does not bode well for our fishing industry.

Why? Because they will sell-out fishing as soon as it is no longer politically expedient. The fact that the Tories took us into the Common Fisheries Policy tell us that. Will they protect fishing? The answer is an emphatic NO.

That was a long time ago, I know. So perhaps we should look at something more recent. We need only look back to mid-January to the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit. On that day we began to see the Tory mask slip.

Among her chief objectives were financial services and the freedom of car exports. Fishing did manage to get a mention but it wasn’t quite what we were looking for.

What the Prime Minister did say was an insult to our fishing industry and hints at an impending sell-out. The only concern she highlighted for fishing was for Spanish fishermen. She said that she didn’t think EU leaders would want to make Spanish fishermen poorer – just to punish Britain.

Bingo – bargaining chip. After all this rhetoric about helping fishing; she decides to completely ignore the concerns of Scotland’s fishing communities. The UK Government is warming up to the idea of selling-out our fishing.

The Tories will say whatever it takes to get their way and if it is a choice between financial services and fishing they will choose financial services. They will do whatever it takes to protect the interests of London. They haven’t any regard for Scotland’s coastal communities least of all the North-east.

But the Scottish Government won’t let that happen and I will do all I can to ensure that doesn't happen.

The Cabinet Secretary for Fisheries, Fergus Ewing, has repeatedly pressed the UK Government give a clear commitment that they will not trade away the right to fish in Scottish waters. Mr Ewing has asked for it face to face from both George Eustice MP and Andrea Leadsom MP. He has yet to receive the commitment.

The Scottish Government has attempted to work with the UK Government and continues to press for the best deal for Scotland post-Brexit. Part of that deal is ensuring that while Scotland continues operate within the European Single Market – we do not remain in the CFP.

This model does have challenges but it ensures that fish catching has the chance to free itself from the constraints of a failed CFP and would allow us to negotiate for tariff-free access for our fish processors.

The mask has begun to slip and only the Scottish Government can ensure that our coastal communities aren't sold out once again.

Stewart Stevenson
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