A MSP from the HIGHLANDS and Islands of Forres believes her hometown is leading the local way in the fight against climate change.
Ariane Claire Burgess – a member of the Scottish Greens and chair of the Scottish Parliament’s local government, housing and planning committee – is still supporting local organizations despite traveling to Edinburgh by train.
She said: “We are fortunate, thanks to the foresight of community members, to have many places where people can be in nature within walking distance of our town. These places are maintained by the Moray Council and a tremendous effort of community volunteers. I myself am involved with Transition Towns Forres in Bogton, working to achieve a low carbon lifestyle.
Ms Burgess thinks the Moray Council’s climate emergency declaration is valid, but would like more to be done. Last September, she joined a strike march for the climate from the Thomson Memorial to Grant Park, demonstrating the strength of the sentiments of local people.
She said: ‘We need systemic change and this needs to be addressed by government at all levels. Organizations and businesses in the region have been working for years to address these emergencies: I support Moray Carshare, which has 150 members who share cars and e-bikes; market gardeners grow food locally to help reduce food miles; and Moray Waste Busters recycle things we no longer need.
Ms. Burgess holds a Master of Science in Integrative Ecosocial Design and Leadership and was an Ecovillage Design Education Facilitator for Gaia Education Thailand and Findhorn Ecovillage. She also has a certificate in permacultural design.
She said, “Before becoming an MSP, I focused on regenerative and sustainable community development. I turned to this 20 years ago when I realized the impact of human activity on the climate and the environment. I knew communities had to adapt in response to environmental emergencies.
In a previous career, Ms Burgess moved from Scotland to New York to work in the film and music industry, once working with the Rolling Stones and Mariah Carey.
She said: “It was a lot of fun until I realized the environmental issues created by the industry.”
She added: “I have always been involved in politics. In New York, I participated in campaigns such as defending immigrant workers, stopping the development of an incinerator in a community where people already suffered from high levels of asthma, and preventing the bulldozing of community gardens. where people grew food.
“When I returned to Scotland I joined the Green Party and in 2014 I played a leading role in the Yes Moray campaign. I want Scotland to have all the decision-making powers. I also want to increase the representation of women in politics.
One of 12 Scottish Greens vying for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, Ms Burgess stood in the constituency of Inverness and Nairn. She was elected an additional MSP for the Highlands and Islands region.
Ms Burgess still lives in Forres with her partner but works in Holyrood Parliament.
She said: “My working day is very fast and busy. Each moment is engaging on a series of questions.
“Every day is different and involves, among other things: working with government ministers; convene the housing and urban planning committee; participate in the work of the Committee on Rurality, Islands and the Natural Environment; processing voters’ requests; meet with stakeholders and my MSPs and support my team.
“Around 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, we vote on the motions or laws being debated that day. There are many factors to weigh to find the right path but I come back to: ‘will this decision ensure a better future for young people and the planet?’
Ms Burgess is confident that a deal between the ruling SNP and the Scottish Green Party reached in August will prove fruitful.
She said: “Co-operation is a great opportunity for Scotland to implement green policies.
“We need to create more affordable housing and prioritize the use of abandoned land.
“Locally, with the A96 doubling undergoing an evidence-based review which will include a climate compatibility assessment, we have the opportunity to push for better rail and bus services.”