Scotland has the potential to make a significant contribution to the world by becoming an independent state that advocates for peace and climate action, according to the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
The group is holding a Festival for Survival on Saturday to discuss how Scotland can address the twin threats of nuclear weapons and climate change, which it says are not separate but interact.
The festival will feature speakers from various backgrounds and perspectives, including activists, academics, politicians and journalists.
Why Scotland matters in the global context
Scotland is currently home to the largest concentration of nuclear firepower in Europe, as it hosts the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines at Faslane and Coulport.
The UK is one of the nine nuclear-armed states in the world, and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The UK is also a major contributor to global warming, as it has historically emitted more greenhouse gases per capita than most other countries.
Scotland, however, has a different vision for its future, as it seeks to become an independent state that rejects nuclear weapons and embraces renewable energy.
The Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.
The treaty entered into force in January 2021, after being ratified by 50 states. The UK has not signed or ratified the treaty, and neither have the other nuclear-armed states.
Scotland also has ambitious targets for reducing its carbon emissions and increasing its share of renewable energy sources.
The Scottish Government aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, five years ahead of the UK’s target.
Scotland also plans to generate 100% of its electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020, and 50% of its total energy consumption from renewables by 2030.
How Scotland can learn from other small states
Scotland is not alone in its quest for peace and climate justice. There are many other small states that have shown leadership and innovation in these areas.
For example, Ireland has chosen not to join any military alliance, but instead to focus on contributing to UN peacekeeping missions. It also played a key role in the negotiation of the Cluster Munitions Convention, which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs.
Austria and Switzerland have hosted many international humanitarian agencies and conferences, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Conference on Disarmament.
New Zealand was one of the first countries to declare itself nuclear-free in 1984, passing legislation that prohibits any involvement with nuclear weapons. It also banned nuclear-powered ships from entering its waters.
Many European states have adopted high standards for environmental protection and energy efficiency in their buildings, transport and industries. Some examples are Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany.
These countries have shown that small states can have a big impact on global issues by setting an example, building coalitions and influencing norms.
What challenges and opportunities lie ahead for Scotland
Scotland faces many challenges and opportunities in its pursuit of independence and its role in the world.
One of the main challenges is the opposition from the UK Government, which refuses to grant a second referendum on Scottish independence despite the pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.
The UK Government also insists that Scotland would have to join NATO as a condition for membership in the EU, which would contradict Scotland’s anti-nuclear stance.
Another challenge is the uncertainty caused by Brexit, which has disrupted trade, travel and cooperation between Scotland and its European partners.
Brexit also poses a threat to human rights, environmental standards and social justice in Scotland, as the UK Government seeks to diverge from EU regulations.
On the other hand, Scotland also has many opportunities to advance its interests and values in the world.
One of them is the COP26 climate summit, which will take place in Glasgow in November 2021. This will be a crucial moment for global action on climate change, as countries are expected to submit their updated plans for reducing their emissions under the Paris Agreement.
Scotland can use this opportunity to showcase its achievements and aspirations on renewable energy and climate justice, as well as to pressure the UK Government and other major emitters to do more.
Another opportunity is the growing support for independence among Scottish people, especially among young people. According to recent polls, more than half of Scots favour independence from the UK, while more than two-thirds of Scots aged 16-34 support it.
This reflects a generational shift in attitudes towards Scotland’s identity and future. Young Scots are more likely to see themselves as European and global citizens who value diversity, democracy and human rights.
Scotland can harness this momentum to build a more inclusive and progressive society that reflects its aspirations and values.
How you can get involved in the Festival for Survival
The Festival for Survival is a free online event that will take place on Saturday, October 30, from 10am to 4pm.
The festival will feature a range of speakers and workshops on topics such as nuclear disarmament, climate change, peacebuilding, international solidarity and Scottish independence.
Some of the speakers include:
- Isobel Lindsay, vice-chair of Scottish CND and former lecturer in sociology and politics
- Bill Kidd MSP, co-president of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament
- Dr Rebecca Johnson, co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017
- Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland
- Maggie Chapman, co-leader of the Scottish Green Party
- Lesley Riddoch, journalist and broadcaster
- Dr Michael Keating, professor of politics and director of the Centre on Constitutional Change
The festival aims to inspire and empower people to take action for a more peaceful and sustainable world.
You can register for the festival here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/festival-for-survival-tickets-189373342539
You can also follow the festival on social media using the hashtag #FestivalForSurvival
The festival is organised by Scottish CND, with support from other organisations such as Peace and Justice Scotland, Stop the War Coalition Scotland, Scottish WILPF and Trident Ploughshares.
Will Scotland become a global leader in peace and climate action?
Scotland has a unique opportunity to become a global leader in peace and climate action, by becoming an independent state that rejects nuclear weapons and embraces renewable energy.
Scotland also has a responsibility to use its voice and influence to advocate for a more just and humane world, where human rights, democracy and cooperation are valued over violence, domination and exploitation.
Scotland has a vision for its future that is different from the UK’s. A future that is based on peace and climate justice, not war and environmental destruction.
But will Scotland be able to realise this vision? Will it be able to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead?
Will it be able to make its voice heard as an advocate for survival?
The answer lies in the hands of the Scottish people.