MSPs, business leaders and newly enrolled university students may be asked to take mandatory climate change studies if plans currently under consideration are adopted.

The studies would help arm them with facts and knowledge to make urgent changes to society as it emerges from COVID-19 lockdown. The Scottish Government has already committed to enrolling at least 100 senior officials to the Climate Solutions course.

The news comes just days before Tuesday’s one-year anniversary of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declaring a climate emergency.

The course was devised by experts at the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the Institute of Directors, Stirling University’s Business School and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Among the main areas the course looks at are issues around transport, energy use, supply chains, social behaviours, mitigation and planning for the future.

Former UN executive secretary on climate change Christiana Figueres who brokered the Paris Agreement, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney who is now UN special envoy on climate action and finance and ex Irish President Mary Robinson who set up a climate justice foundation, are among heavyweight names lending their support.

The Herald:

The man behind the idea, RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson, said a number of business leaders have already committed to undertake the course along with the Scottish Government, with further discussions to ensure new university students and MSPs can take part well-underway.

The studies are aimed at filling the gaps in knowledge, on a scientific and factual basis, with a focus on developing a structured plan. Online modules are live now, with the first planned workshop to be held in June.

He insists business leaders – and the farming community in particular – will play a key role in deciding future outcomes.

Mr Robinson, said: “What we’re really hoping is we can make it universal.

“The conversations I’ve had are with six universities is about making it mandatory for students as a matriculation course. Stirling and Edinburgh universities are already further down the line on that than others.

“I’m also talking to others about making it as mandatory as we can in all other sectors - including business - because we need everybody to wake up a bit to their responsibilities.

“The Scottish Government are already committed through their programme of government to put through 100 senior staff on it.”

Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, setting a legally binding pledge to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest – five years ahead of the date set for the UK as a whole.

The nation’s emissions cuts in March stood at around 50 per cent since 1990 baseline levels, but achieving 100 per cent is expected to take a lot more work across every sector of the community.

Speaking during Climate Solutions Week, Mr Robinson added: Targets, particularly on climate change, relate to the whole of our society and not just government, and you need businesses, you need local authorities, you need individual actors to pick up the baton and play their role.

“Until you all have the same thing you are working too, then the danger is you are actually pulling apart instead of pulling in the same direction and that’s actually the single biggest risk.

“There is a willingness, but not necessarily clarity.

“So, here’s a way that’s credible, reliable, makes sense to business and helps them implement stuff - because if you don’t know this stuff how are you going to run a business in ten years time.”

Anticipating hundreds of people to enrol in the first year, he hopes the course can help reduce the impact of the pause.

He said: “It’s very solutions focussed, its imbued with optimism which I think is essential from a mental health point of view. I’m not into scaring people witless about this, we want to enable them.

“What we’re trying to do is make it easy as possible for people to work out the answers quickly, and the need to take action quickly.

“Even if you can’t necessary impact a solution directly by introducing it in your business or in your own life then what you can do is recognise the need for that change and allow it to happen.”