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by Kyle Usher, Nesta
17 February 2021
Associate feature: To tackle the climate crisis, we need to start looking beyond it

Climate change - Image credit: Adobe Stock

Associate feature: To tackle the climate crisis, we need to start looking beyond it

Living through these times, it is clear that responding to a crisis takes sustained effort.

It takes leadership, shared responsibility, collective will and determination.

It takes all of us working together, supporting each other with both small gestures and great acts.

It also takes hope – the capacity to look forward to a time after the crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis has been hard for everyone, but in the face of the challenges and the heartache, we have maintained hope for the future.

Our belief that we will get through the pandemic has been nurtured by the collective effort we have seen in the response and the positive changes that have been part of that response.

Overdue recognition of the key role played by frontline workers across our society has led us to redefine what we count as essential.

People coming together to support their neighbours has highlighted the necessity and value of community.

Technology, whether cutting-edge or repurposed, has helped us to stay connected to one another and both live and work differently.

In recent weeks, the massive national effort to roll out vaccinations offers a light at the end of the tunnel.

But looking ahead to a time after COVID, when positive changes can be adopted into new ways of living, working and interacting with each other, has been a feature of the crisis from the start.

The importance of imagining a better future in response to the challenges of the present should not be underestimated.

The same hope and optimism is, at times, missing from the discourse on the other great crisis of our time – the climate emergency.

Responding effectively to the climate emergency will need a great effort and difficult choices will need to be made.

Those choices will continue to change the way we all live.

Can we help shape that response and make the right choices today by imagining the way we want to live in a sustainable Scotland of tomorrow?

Working with some of the people helping to design Scotland’s response to the climate emergency, as well as those working across industries and communities, Nesta in Scotland explored this question in the second half of 2020.

We asked: what life might look like in our towns and cities if we cut traffic and active travel became the default?

How might our efforts to live, work, shop and play more locally lead to a more community-focused way of being?

Will renewable energy generation and decarbonised homes result in us sharing energy across our neighbourhoods?

How will our democratic institutions reflect our sustainable way of life?

What industries might we build, what jobs would we do and what skills would we learn in order to do them?

How might nature thrive across our wild and urban landscapes?

The future vision we have created isn’t intended to be a definitive answer to these questions, or even necessarily a roadmap to get there.

Instead, it is an invitation to everyone to help imagine the place we want Scotland to be and how we want to live when we get there.

And to use that creative vision to inspire each other to act with the collective determination and hope we know we will need to meet this great challenge.


Kyle Usher is the programme manager for Nesta in Scotland

This article was sponsored by Nesta

You can explore Nesta’s shared vision of a sustainable future Scotland at and share your own visions with them at


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