Campaigners call for ‘radical response to double crises’

Representatives of 80 organisations call for a meeting with the First Minister to present ideas.

Campaigners call for ‘radical response to double crises’ Pixabay

Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to draw up a “radical response to the double crises of climate change and coronavirus”.

Campaigners from 80 organisations across Scotland are calling for a meeting with the First Minister to present ideas on ensuring a “truly just and green recovery” from Covid-19.

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, the groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland, faith organisations, Oxfam Scotland and trade unions, said a return “to business as usual” is “both unrealistic and undesirable”.

They told the First Minister: “Decisions made in times of crisis have long-lasting consequences. After the 2008 financial crisis, inequality grew and climate emissions spiralled.

“We want to see this moment seized for the common good, not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The Poverty Alliance, Children in Scotland, Christian Aid Scotland and Extinction Rebellion Scotland are also among the organisations making the plea.

They argue existing inequalities across society are being “exacerbated” by the pandemic and climate change, leaving the poorest to suffer the most.

But they insist: “The recovery from coronavirus is a rare chance to markedly accelerate the repurposing of government away from the prioritisation of economic growth and towards goals of wellbeing and sustainability, ending inequality and environmental destruction. This is a time for system change.”

They want to see expanded public ownership of public services and a redistribution of wealth, which they say must “ensure all public workers receive at least the real living wage”.

New funds should be set up to “transform our society and economy to meet Scotland’s fair share of climate emissions cuts and greatly enhance biodiversity”, they argue, also calling for the government to “create and protect jobs in sustainable travel, renewable heat, affordable local food and energy efficiency”.

The Scottish Government is also being urged to use the COP26 UN climate talks in Glasgow – which have been postponed a year to November 2021 – to “push for robust implementation of the Paris deal” on global emissions reductions.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “As we plan our economic recovery, we must build back better. We must design a more just taxation system, provide affordable and accessible public services, build a labour market that works for everyone, and ensure that everyone has an income that meets their needs.”

Lilian Macer, convener of the Unison Scotland union, said: “Public services and the workers in them have demonstrated their value during this crisis. Health and care workers, cleaners and domestics, shop workers, posties and transport workers. All have stepped up to the plate. All are low paid.

“In the recovery phase we must ensure that the services they provide are protected for the future and that they are rewarded better for the jobs they do all of the time, and not just in a crisis. The future must provide justice for these workers”

Caroline Rance of Friends of the Earth Scotland added: “As we recover from coronavirus, we have a chance to transform our society and economy in a way that puts people and the planet first.

“The Scottish Government’s recovery plan must lay the foundations for a fairer, greener future.”