Living in a world that has been dominated by the threat of Covid-19 for the past two years, it is sometimes difficult to look further afield at other issues facing the planet. While the impact of Covid has been – and continues to be – devastating, the damage to the planet resulting from climate change has the clear potential to become an even greater threat in the years ahead.

The world came together to a quite unprecedented degree to fight back against Covid. The rapid development and deployment of much needed medical ventilators, personal protective equipment and vital Covid vaccines necessitated a huge amount of international co-operation. The establishment of new procedures for international travel and quarantine regulations, designed to restrict the spread of Covid, also required countries to work together for the greater good.

Clearly, the threat of Covid has not gone away and will likely remain with us for quite some time. While the vaccination programme is now well-established in many countries, there are also many parts of the world where vaccines are extremely scarce. The price of Covid vaccines is a challenge for governments in less affluent nations, which has led to a growing call – supported by the EIS – for patent-free access to Covid vaccines to allow all countries to manufacture sufficient vaccine for their own needs.

While the global threat posed by Covid remains severe, the risk to the entire planet – and every person on it – posed by climate change is even greater. We have known about the risks associated with climate change for many years and yet, in contrast to the Covid response, the world has done relatively little about it.

Warnings about the damaging impact of climate change have come from many sources over the years, and the weight of scientific evidence is stark. In recent years, young people have increasingly taken the lead on action against climate change. Inspirational young people such as Greta Thunberg are successfully challenging world leaders to take the environmental threat more seriously, while well-organised and coordinated action by young people across the globe has attracted huge publicity to the campaign.

The COP26 Conference, to be held in Glasgow next month, is an absolutely vital event. It is not overly dramatic to say that, for the planet to be saved, definitive and swift action must follow from the COP26 summit. Demonstrations have been organised, supported by the EIS, to help place maximum pressure on global leaders to act.

As ever, young people remain key to the fight against climate change. To aid their efforts, the EIS is organising a range of education activities linked to COP26 to provide teachers and lecturers with resources to support Climate Change education. You can find out more about the resources, and the new EIS online portal, in this edition of the SEJ.

175 Years and still going strong

The EIS is now in its 175th year supporting Scotland’s teaching professionals. Formed in 1847, the EIS is the longest established national teaching union in the world. As we highlight in this edition, work is now underway to find suitable ways to mark the occasion. Further information will be available throughout the year as we celebrate this important milestone.