Rainbows & unicorns: How Scotland’s Just Transition is making waves for climate

The Rainbow Warrior enchants even lying still in the water. The famous emblem bursting to life in a blaze of colour, 55m masts towering above.

A lick of green paint might be needed to cover the corrosion here and there. But framed against the silvery Scottish skies in Leith it remains a symbol of hope, of defiance, of a group that knows how to win.

People crane their necks from across the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre to look, to take a photo and point, the self indulgence of the former Royal yacht Britannia a few meters away apparently no longer a draw by comparison.

Rainbow Warrior III

Quayside and dozens of people have turned out to hear from groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Platform as part of their Just Transition Tour.

It really is a marvellous site. The young and the old, or should I say wise, socially distanced together with the big and the small, the committed activists and the mildly interested, all nestled under the frame of the ship, each ready to listen.

Among the people giving speeches, Lorna Slater – the local MSP and Co-Leader of the Scottish Green Party who draws on her own experiences to argue passionately for transitioning the oil and gas system and against “shameless” industry lobbyists.

WATCH VIDEO: Lorna Slater, MSP for Lothian (Region), Co-Leader, Scottish Greens

She is joined by fellow MSP Paul McLennan from the SNP, who in a Q&A after his speech goes on to say that in a ‘personal’ capacity he thinks the proposed controversial Cambo oil and gas field off Shetland under consideration should not be allowed by the UK.

“I might get my backside kicked-for saying that,” he admits, even earning a cheer from a crowd seemingly growing growlingly impatient with the Scottish Government’s ruling ministers for not coming out and stating the same.

WATCH VIDEO: Paul McLennan, SNP MSP for East Lothian

Monica Lennon shows up for it too for Scottish Labour, almost mob handed with a couple of colleagues in tow, before unleashing an impassioned speech about what needs done which draws loud applause.

WATCH VIDEO: Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour MSP for Central Scotland

Rona Hardy from Young Friends of the Earth Scotland said if the Cambo oil field goes ahead, she would be aged 54 by the time it expires, a lifetime and calls for jobs for people that would instead prevent climate devastation.

WATCH VIDEO: Rona Hardy, Young Friends of the Earth Scotland

And if anyone needed a reminder of how trade unionists can influence minds, Willie Black of Scots E3 delivers a suitably powerful speech on workers being let down in the past and, he fears, they will be left behind again today.

WATCH VIDEO: Willie Black, Scot.E3

Tess Humble of the COP26 Coalition talks with conviction about how common workers and their families will be the ones worst impacted by catastrophic climate change as she spoke of climate justice and how economies will crumble and societies will fall.

WATCH VIDEO: Tess Humble, Mobilisation Officer at Cop26 Coalition

From the Just Transition Partnership, Matthew Crichton goes on to outline how such a policy had to be at the core of climate change having helped introduce the concept to the debate amid an entire reform of the economy to make society better.

WATCH VIDEO: Matthew Crichton, Secretary of the Just Transition Partnership

Des Loughney from the Edinburgh Trade Union Council insists 200,000 green jobs can be created within the next few years with a focus on social care and retro fitting amid a pre council election campaign to persuade politicians to support it.

WATCH VIDEO: Des Loughney, Secretary of Edinburgh Trade Union Council

Dozens queue up to lend their signature to the multicoloured names stretched out across the length of the wind turbine blade used to deliver symbolism of what might be.

Most wear their new Just Transition badges (materials repurposed from old yoghurt pots) with conviction, recently distanced friends catch-up after their pandemic enforced exiles, warriors in green masks inspire, campaign t-shirts become talking points.

And in between it all, the premier of ‘Rigged’, a new documentary style short film about those in the oil and gas industry as well as those who have made it out.

It’s a sobering, thoughtful film, albeit with its own message. That there is no other way to stop the climate crisis without the end of the oil and gas era.

Choppy will come for sure, but look far enough ahead and you just might see those new horizons coming into view.

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