Tackling climate policy with trusted messengers

June 1, 2022 by No Comments | Category climate change engagement, Guest blog, open government

On the run up to World Environment Day, we invited Karen from the climate change public engagement team to blog about climate change engagement.

We have committed to becoming a net zero greenhouse gas emitting nation by 2045. 

Expert advice has been clear that over 60% of the measures needed for Scotland to reach net zero will require some level of change in the way society operates. 

We published our Climate change – Net Zero Nation: public engagement strategy in September 2021. In this strategy we set out our vision, which is that:

“Everyone in Scotland recognises the implications of the global climate emergency, fully understands and contributes to Scotland’s response, and embraces their role in the transition to a net zero and climate ready Scotland.”

We set three objectives to work towards this vision:

  • Understand – People are aware of the action that all of Scotland is taking to tackle climate change and understand how it relates to their lives
  • Participate – People actively participate in shaping just, fair and inclusive policies that promote mitigation of and adaptation to climate change
  • Act – Taking action on climate change is normalised and encouraged in households, communities and places across Scotland

We’re working to put our ‘Participate’ objective into practice by:

  • Continuing to facilitate meaningful climate engagement and conversations with people and audiences not currently engaged on the topic
  • Ensuring those affected by our transition and climate impacts are engaged in the design and delivery of key policies
  • Developing our approach to ensuring key climate change policies exhibit the principles of Open Government through meaningful consultation and participation
  • Developing a new approach to ensuring a genuine role in policy processes for young people

What’s happened so far

In September 2019, we called for Scotland’s Climate Assembly – an independent group of around 100 people, broadly representative of the Scottish population. They provided 81 recommendations on how Scotland should change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way. Scottish Government responded to these recommendations in December 2021.

In November we played a key role in the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 – held in Glasgow. Our recent report, Scottish Government at COP26: What was achieved? details what took place. COP26, amongst other things, increased awareness of our targets and the collective effort required, and inspired greater action to help achieve net zero.

Our actions on participation

Following the success of Scotland’s Climate Assembly, we are building on our experience of public climate conversations to develop this approach further. This will involve delivering an innovative, comprehensive and consistent approach to participation in climate change policymaking.

To do this we need to bring new audiences into the conversation, and are working hard to engage a large audience across all levels of Scottish society. The government cannot and should not be the only communicator on a complex and urgent issue such as climate change. We believe that a wide range of organisations serving different communities and groups in Scotland are best suited to engage with their own audiences about climate change. We are supporting these trusted messengers to help equip the people of Scotland with knowledge and enable them to meaningfully participate in shaping the policies that will affect their communities in the years to come. 

We have also made an Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitment to “establish an Open Government stakeholder network to deliver on participation and engagement requirements across key milestones for climate change policy.” This commitment is set out in Scottish Government’s 2021-25 Open Government Action Plan.

In line with Open Government values of transparency and participation, this network will be co-created with a core group of stakeholders, setting out out governance, membership and delivery plans. This will ensure a clear understanding of the network’s remit, and a solid basis on which to begin work. Initial focus will be on public participation and engagement in climate change policy and just transition to net zero. 

Given the established climate change policy landscape, the network will focus on the implementation and delivery of existing policies, rather than the design of new policies. Given the whole-societal effort required to reach net zero, we anticipate that the network will include a broad range of people, from the public, private and third sectors and civil society, and both climate and non-climate experts. The network will provide advice on a range of climate policy issues rather than acting as a “steering group”, and will also ensure accountability and transparency on Scottish Government actions.

Looking to the future

We have a lot more participation planned in the coming months and years.

We’re working with those involved in community climate action to develop regional Community Climate Action Hubs across Scotland that can stimulate and support grassroots climate action in a coordinated way. This also means that different approaches can be adopted in different areas depending on local circumstances and priorities. Engagement with local communities is ongoing to facilitate the creation of a network of Regional Climate Actions Hubs covering all of Scotland.

Our updated Climate Change Plan details how we intend to reduce emissions across key sectors in Scotland, and sets out the wide range of areas where we have and will continue to consult widely on different policy areas, from single use plastics to heating buildings and active travel.

We recently set out our Just Transition Planning Framework which will inform the creation of Just Transition Plans – a set of planning documents guiding us toward meeting our climate ambitions. All of these plans will be co-designed and co-delivered to ensure all partners are empowered to engage, and that action is fair and co-ordinated. 

‘Just transition’ means placing those most likely to be negatively impacted by the transition at the heart of our process – whether an offshore energy worker seeking re-training opportunities, or a farmer seeking to switch to more sustainable food production methods or practices. 

Get involved

We must all play our part in tackling climate change. By making changes to how we travel, what we buy, reducing our waste and changing how we use energy at home, we can help to reach net zero emissions by 2045. Find out what actions you can take now. 

Support Scotland’s Climate Week from 26 September to 2 October – Scotland’s Climate Week is an annual event, which started in 2016, to help raise awareness of the global climate emergency and celebrate Scotland’s leadership in taking action against climate change.

Could you or your organisation help us spread the word? Get in touch to see how we can support you as a trusted messenger

Get in touch to find out more about the Open Government stakeholder network for climate change and how you can get involved

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