Fuel Change aims to challenge youngsters to devise their own practical solutions to the climate emergency and help Scotland achieve its net-zero ambition. By Andrew Collier.

Younger people in particular are concerned by climate change. If we get the response to this global emergency wrong, they have the most to lose; get it right, and they will reap the biggest benefits.

They do not, however, always feel engaged, believing that the solutions will come from governments and others. Now a new Scottish organisation is working to help the next generation to see that they have a part to play and to design their own carbon-free futures.

Fuel Change is working from its base at Forth Valley to provide a platform for young people, including school pupils and apprentices, to become directly involved in dealing with the climate emergency.

This not-for-profit organisation is launching a number of programmes, known as challenges, to allow participants to learn, influence and solve complex industry-led problems that relate to their own futures. These will be developed into climate action projects.

The aim is to help drive Scotland and the world towards meeting its net zero targets. The different challenges plan to create real and practical solutions that can be implemented by partner companies, hopefully globally, and make a real difference to carbon change.

The first such programme was launched last September. Earlier this month a new one was launched, the Grangemouth Net Zero Challenge. This has been set by the global chemical company INEOS, which has its largest manufacturing site by volume locally, and the Scottish Government.

A total of 20 teams made up of apprentices and young people will devise their own solutions to a number of challenges. Employees involved include not just INEOS but also a host of other organisations including Balfour Beatty, Forth Ports, Falkirk Council, Fujifilm and the University of Stirling.

Once they have developed their ideas with the help of experienced mentors, they will be able to present them to industry professionals.

The fact that the challenge is taking place in Grangemouth is particularly exciting as it has been designated as an essential national strategic site. The area is seen as vital to the economy as it is an industrial hub with a wide range of critical industries.

The highly skilled jobs it provides and its links to research and innovation providers are important in helping Scotland transition to a net zero carbon economy.

The co-founder of Fuel Change, Jennifer Tempany, said: “It is a truly unique opportunity not only to help meet Scotland’s target of net zero emissions but to make a huge difference locally in our communities. We can’t wait to hear the innovative solutions from the next generation.”

Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy, said he was looking forward to seeing the ideas that would be generated by the challenge.

“We are committed to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045 and ensuring that we do it in a way that is fair and just and leaves no-one behind. The Grangemouth Net Zero Challenge has the potential not only to develop solutions that will benefit the Grangemouth cluster, but across the industry and our energy sector, harnessing skills, knowledge and expertise that will be critical to supporting and developing good green jobs.”

Fuel Change has also created a partnership with a Swiss organisation, The Pond Foundation, to develop a programme called My Carbon Zero (MCZ). This aims to encourage behavioural change among pupils to help tackle the climate emergency.

The MCZ initiative will endeavour to help individuals make informed choices in all aspects of life including energy, transport, food and waste and will encourage students to take an entrepreneurial approach in creating solutions.

A pilot programme has been started in conjunction with Larbert High School in Stirlingshire. Staff, pupils and the wider school community are learning the knowledge and acquiring the tools to develop a positive new outlook on the climate emergency. The aim is to help Scotland lead the world towards a green and sustainable future by creating a generation able to play a positive part in this.

There are dedicated learning programmes and awareness of the issues is being integrated into the curriculum. All pupils in S1 have been asked to follow a unit of work on the climate emergency involving them investigating this from every angle, including history, ethics, politics and geography.

In addition, all year groups are involved in exploring the subject, examining the causes and impacts of climate change in addition to looking at solutions that can be implemented both now and in the future. Skills learned include persuading others including politicians and business leaders.

Next month, a family programme is to be launched to encourage participation in the wider community. This will help families support young people in making informed decisions about a sustainable future.

In another part of the initiative, the students will advance their knowledge and understanding by forming partnerships with organisations that see the climate emergency as a priority and may have made it one of their strategic targets.

 The school’s head teacher, Jon Reid, said: “We’ve moved from a climate challenge to a climate emergency and it’s important that everyone realises that now is the time to take action and to do their bit.

“We are delighted to be involved with this ground-breaking initiative. There’s no better place to start than with the leaders of tomorrow.”

Fuel Change and MCZ now hope to go on and partner with other schools both in Scotland and globally in order to shift the behaviours of the next generation towards low carbon living.



This article is brought to you in association with Fuel Change as part of The Herald's Climate Solutions Initiative.