Citizens of the world

Green MSP Alison Johnstone welcomes action on the climate crisis from a football institution.

People often ask me what the one thing they should do to save the planet. There is a feeling of helplessness, that if you already cycle and recycle, you don’t take internal flights, then there is nothing to stop the climate crisis that is becoming more and more obvious to us all.

The truth is that this is not simply about lifestyle choices, it is about leadership. Especially when the empirical scientific evidence tells us we have ten years to turn this around.

The climate emergency has not been caused by ordinary people. It is governments and corporations that need to act. In fact, just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

They need to shift investment from the things that are causing the most damage to our planet and towards the things that make up the solution.

That is why I was absolutely thrilled when Hibs announced that the club was stepping up its ambition to be the greenest football club in Scotland. In its statement the club says it takes seriously its leadership role for citizens of Leith, citizens of Edinburgh, citizens of Scotland and citizens of the world.

I hadn’t previously been aware that Hibs are third in the UK for environmental action, after Forest Green Rovers and Manchester United. It’s fantastic that they want to shout that from the rooftops, because it shows the kind of impressive leadership we need.

This means Hibs already use renewable electricity and take a lead on recycling, but they have pledged to go further. They will be removing all single use plastics from the stadium’s catering kiosks, switching their car fleet to electric vehicles and introducing vegan food to its matchday kiosks.

They are looking at harvesting rainwater, beekeeping and opening community gardens at the training facilities in East Lothian.

The club will also work in partnership with other organisations including small local businesses to lead change, and make low carbon choices easier for supporters. As I said, this is about leadership, not individual lifestyle choices.

Football clubs are in the physical and metaphorical hearts of our communities. Some, like Hibs, have a global following. I remember the incredible scenes as 250,000 people took to the streets to celebrate their cup win.

Hibs chairman Ronald Gordon and chief executive Leanne Dempster should be congratulated for using that platform to spread understanding that we need to go further if we are to provide an emergency response to the climate crisis.

If Edinburgh is going to reach the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, then other institutions in the city must take note of what Hibs are doing and match their ambition. Furthermore, I hope other football clubs across the country can take inspiration from them, even those who don’t wear green.

Because when it comes to the climate emergency, we’re all on the same side. It is not helpful to think about individual sacrifices that ordinary people have to make, when strong leadership can build a better Scotland for all of us, whatever team you support.