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‘I’ve elected not to have kids’: Climate crisis fears in Dundee and Angus ahead of COP26

With a week to go until COP26 kicks off in Glasgow, the thoughts of people in Dundee and Angus are with the next generation as climate change transforms our planet.

Dundee resident Chuck Reilly is so concerned for the future that, at the age of just 22, they have decided not to have children.

Chuck identifies as transgender and therefore uses the pronouns they and them.

They said: “I’ve elected not to have kids. Because, another person who has to worry about their environmental impact? It doesn’t make sense.”

Self-employed Chuck said they are “completely” set on their decision.

“I’m not going to bring someone else into that,” they added.

Governments ‘lack motivation’

Chuck said there was not enough “motivation” among governments to fully switch to renewable power sources such as wind and tidal.

And they added as an individual they felt a responsibility to make more environmentally friendly lifestyle decisions.

“I think it would be selfish of me to go about my life like nothing was happening.

“I’ve gone veggie predominantly but I avoid things like soy because a lot of the vegan products do a lot of deforesting so they can grow it all.

“I avoid palm oil and things like that. I just find those little things easier.”

Public split on climate issues

Emma and Jessica Forster.
Emma and Jessica Forster.

While some of those we spoke to during our stop-offs in Dundee and Forfar were passionate about action on climate change, others were reluctant to comment.

A number of people we approached said they felt they were not well-informed enough to give an opinion.

And a few said they were not interested.

Emma Forster, 40, runs a farm and gym just outside Wormit.

She says she has a connection with the land and the environment because of her work.

“As farmers, renewable energy and looking after our climate and our land and our soil is part of what we do anyway.

“Living in a rural setting, it’s part of our day to day life.”

And the mother or four has concerns about how the planet will look when her children are grown.

“It’s a huge thought.

“When I think of what’s changed in my lifetime. Then I’ve got four children. Thinking what will change in their lifetime, that’s huge.”

Emma says she is “trying to bring them up knowing what’s going on and what’s important”.

Both Emma and her 14-year-old daughter Jessica would like to see governments come up with “tangible” solutions to climate change.

Jessica said: “Everyone knows it’s an issue, but I feel like nothing’s really changing.

“It’s definitely been a topic of discussion in school.

“I feel like they should give people specific guidance on the stuff that they can actually achieve. Rather than goals that they’re never going to meet.”

Climate change ‘close to the point of no return’

Neil and Pam Scott speak to the Courier team.
Neil and Pam Scott speak to the Courier team.

Pam and Neil Scott are a Forfar local couple with two grown up children.

Council worker Pam, 52, said her children were “probably more aware” of climate issues than they are.

Neil, 53, who is a local builder, said he had noticed obvious changes in the seasons since he was a boy.

“It’s getting wetter. Winters and summers have changed since we were young.

“You used to get good winters and good summers, and it just seems to be wetter.

“I’m putting it down to climate change.”

He added: “It’s getting close to the point where it’s the point of no return.

“Polar bears are going to be extinct. Ice shelves disappearing, no food. There are a lot of issues.”

‘Things have got to change’

Neil said he was frustrated with what appeared to be a lack of political will to act on climate change.

“It’s been going on for years and there’s never really been very much change. They speak about it and nothing happens.

“Things have got to change.”

He criticised political leaders who had chosen not to attend the COP26 summit.

“They’re not even all coming.

“If you’re going to change things you’re going to make an attempt to come and sit at the table.”

Danny Lee.
Danny Lee.

Danny Lee, 31, who we caught up with in Forfar, said there was a “disconnection” between young environmental activists and politicians.

He called for leaders at COP26 to come up with “a plan going forward that they can all agree on, that’s realistic for normal people”.

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