Climate Change Bill: consultation summary report

A independent summary report analysing responses to the public consultation on Scottish Government proposals for a Climate Change Bill.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1. About the consultation

The Scottish Parliament passed a Climate Change (Scotland) Act in 2009 to set a statutory target for reducing greenhouse gas ( GHG) emissions by at least 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, compared to baseline levels from 1990/95.

The Scottish Government supports the aspirations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement, and continues to make strong progress towards the targets set out in the 2009 Act. The Scottish Government is therefore proposing a new Climate Change Bill to reaffirm its commitment to reduce GHG emissions and pursue efforts to limit global temperature increase.

The Scottish Government requested advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change ( CCC), which put out a call-for-evidence and subsequently published its advice in March 2017. This advice stated that a 90% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 would be more consistent with the ambition of the Paris Agreement. The CCC also stated that setting a more ambitious target than the 2009 Act “would require actions that are currently at the very limit of feasibility”.

The proposals for the Bill include a target for 90% emission reductions by 2050, and sets out a strategic framework for achieving this target, including interim targets and provision for future reporting and legislation. The consultation asked respondents specific questions on these issues, and requested feedback on the wider potential impacts of the proposals on people, businesses and the environment.

The Scottish Government commissioned Dialogue by Design (DbyD), an independent organisation specialising in engagement and consultation, to process, analyse and report on the responses to the consultation. The Scottish Government will use this summary report, alongside the full response data, to get a full and detailed picture of all consultation responses to inform the development of the final Climate Change Bill.

1.2. Participation

The consultation was open from 30 June 2017 until 22 September 2017. The consultation paper provided a link to the Scottish Government consultation hub where an online questionnaire could be accessed for respondents to submit their responses. It also provided email and postal addresses to which responses could be sent.

Most responses to the consultation were submitted via online forms set up by campaign organisations. These organisations sent postcards and emails to the Scottish Government, and provided datasets of the responses generated.

A total of 19,365 responses to the consultation were received, including 273 non-campaign responses and 19,092 campaign responses. Table 1 provides a detailed breakdown of responses. Any blank forms or exact duplicate responses from a single respondent were marked as null responses and are not included in the table.

Table 1: Consultation responses received

Response type Count
Online and off-line questionnaires 246
Offline responses that do not follow the questionnaire format 27
Campaign 38 Degrees 8,426
Campaign Christian Aid - Postcard 1,019
Campaign Friends of the Earth Scotland 2,935
Campaign Friends of the Earth Scotland - Postcard 908
Campaign Global Justice Network 448
Campaign Global Justice Network - Postcard 329
Campaign Oxfam 586
Campaign Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund 2,154
Campaign Stop Climate Chaos Scotland 1,071
Campaign Stop Climate Chaos Scotland - Postcard 103
Campaign WWF 1,113
Total 19,365

The consultation questionnaire comprised six closed questions that asked respondents for their agreement or disagreement with specific aspects of the proposal and 13 open questions that invited respondents to provide more detailed comments. As is common in public consultations, the number of responses per question varied as most respondents did not respond to all questions. Table 2 provides an overview of the number of responses received to each question.

Table 2: Number of responses per question (n=19,365) [1]

Section Question Count
Section 2 1. Do you agree that the 2050 target should be made more ambitious by increasing it to 90% greenhouse gas emission reduction from baseline levels? Yes / No 206
1. Please explain your answer 215
2. Do you agree that the Climate Change Bill should contain provisions that allow for a net-zero greenhouse gas emission target to be set at a later date? Yes / No 207
2. Please explain your answer 210
3a. Do you agree that the 2020 target should be for greenhouse gas emissions to be at least 56% lower than baseline levels? Yes / No 198
3a. Please explain your answer 185
3b. Do you agree that a target should be set for greenhouse gas emissions to be at least 66% lower than baseline levels by 2030? Yes / No 192
3b. Please explain your answer 186
3c. Do you agree that a target should be set for greenhouse gas emissions to be at least 78% lower than baseline levels by 2040? Yes / No 195
3c. Please explain your answer 189
4. Do you agree that annual emission reduction targets should be in the form of percentage reductions from baseline levels? Yes / No 196
4. Please explain your answer 180
5. Do you agree that annual targets should be set as a direct consequence of interim and 2050 targets? Yes / No 196
5. Please explain your answer 176
Section 3 6. Do you agree that all emission reduction targets should be set on the basis of actual emissions, removing the accounting adjustment for the EU ETS? Yes / No 190
6. Please explain your answer 173
Section 4 7a. What are your views on allowing the interim and 2050 emission reduction targets to be updated, with due regard to advice from the CCC, through secondary legislation? 203
7b. What do you think are the most important criteria to be considered when setting or updating emission reduction targets? 206
8a. What are your views on the frequency of future Climate Change Plans? 194
8b. What are your views on the length of time that future Climate Change Plans should cover? 185
8c. What are your views on how development of future Climate Change Plans could be aligned with Paris Stocktake Processes? 180
8d. How many days do you think the period for Parliamentary consideration of draft Climate Change Plans should be? 188
9. What are your views on the proposal that any shortfall against previous targets should be made up through subsequent Climate Change Plans? 200
Section 5 10. What are your views on these initial considerations of the impact of the Bill proposals on Scotland’s people, both now and in future generations? 202
11. What are your views on the opportunities and challenges that the Bill proposals could have for businesses? 197
12a. What are your views on the evidence set out in the Environmental Report that has been used to inform the assessment process? (Please give details of additional relevant sources) 149
12b. What are your views on the predicted environmental effects as set out in the Environmental Report? 142
12c. Are there any other environmental effects that have not been considered? 133
12d. Do you agree with the conclusions and recommendations set out in the Environmental Report? 141
12e. Please provide any other comments you have on the Environmental Report. 127
Section 6 13. Please use this space to tell us any other thoughts you have about the proposed Climate Change Bill not covered in your earlier answers. 197
Email / campaign responses which did not follow the questionnaire format 18180

The Respondent Information Form asked respondents whether they were responding as an individual or an organisation. Organisations were asked to specify their organisation type. Chart 1 provides a breakdown of non-campaign responses (n=273) by respondent type, including 132 individuals and 135 organisations. Six non-campaign respondents did not specify their type.

Chart 1: Breakdown of non-campaign responses by respondent type [2]

Chart 1: Breakdown of non-campaign responses by respondent type

1.3. Methodology

1.3.1. Receipt and processing of feedback

A detailed Data Journey was developed at project inception to outline agreed data handling protocols and ensure the integrity of the final dataset of responses to be analysed.

Response data was downloaded regularly from the Scottish Government online platform to be imported into DbyD’s bespoke analysis database, with a final import carried out following consultation closure.

The Scottish Government received and logged all responses that were not submitted via the online questionnaire, which included written responses and campaign datasets. All such responses were securely transferred to DbyD for processing.

1.3.2. Analysis of open text responses

In order to analyse the responses to open text questions, and the variety of views expressed, a coding framework was created. The purpose of the framework was to enable analysts to organise responses by theme and issue so that main messages as well as specific points of detail could be captured and reported.

A two-tier approach was taken to coding, starting with high level themes derived from the structure of the consultation document, and then specific codes. The top-level themes are listed in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Themes used in the coding framework

Section 2 – Targets
Section 3 – Actual emissions
Section 4 – Reviewing targets
Section 5 – Impacts of proposals
Section 6 – Proposals (general)
Consultation process
Climate change general

Each code was intended to represent a specific issue or argument raised in responses. Natural language codes (rather than numeric sets) were applied as this allowed analysts to suggest refinements and additional issues, aiding quality control and external verification.

The application of a code to part of a response was done by highlighting the relevant text and recording the selection. A single submission could receive multiple codes. Where similar issues were raised, care was taken to ensure that these were coded consistently.

The coding process enabled all responses to be indexed according to the issues raised by respondents, and enabled a detailed summary of the content by means of this report.

1.4. Reading this report

This summary report follows the structure of the consultation questionnaire and addresses each of the questions in turn, before addressing overall comments made about the proposals generally, or related topics outside the scope of the questions asked.

The report has five appendices:

Some responses were made partly or entirely without reference to specific consultation questions including many of the campaigns (see Chapter 7). The points made in these responses have been integrated into the chapters that cover the relevant themes identified.

The report summarises the issues raised by respondents without judgement or interpretation. The report does not aim to cover all the detail contained in the consultation responses and should be seen as a guide to their content rather than an alternative to reading them.

Quotations taken directly from responses have been included to illustrate views discussed in the narrative. Quotations are taken from a wide range of responses and should not be interpreted as an indication that the view has greater significance than others. Nor should quotations be interpreted as representative of the views of other respondents of the same type. No quotations have been included from confidential responses.

1.4.1. Use of numbers and quantifiers in the report

Throughout the report, respondents' views are summarised using quantifiers such as 'many', 'some' and 'a few', to ensure the narrative remains readable. These terms are used to provide the reader with an indication of the balance of views expressed by respondents. To aid readers in interpreting the scope of such quantifiers, each section begins with an indication of how many respondents have responded to the question, also detailed in Table 2. The quantifiers used in each section are relative to this number – so ‘many’ and ‘some’ should be read as ‘many of the respondents who commented on this issue’ and ‘some of the respondents who commented on this issue’. The term ‘majority’ is only used in cases where a clear majority of the respondents who comment on an issue share a similar view. The term ‘a few’ is used for a relative small number of respondents. The selection of other quantifiers is based on the relative balance of issues raised.

It is important to note that this consultation was an open and qualitative process, rather than an exercise to establish dominant views across a representative cross-section of the public. Therefore, no conclusions can be reliably drawn about any population’s views beyond those who responded to the consultation.

1.4.2. Interpreting charts

A few considerations should be borne in mind when interpreting the data in the charts in this document.

  • Firstly, as a consultation process is self-selecting (that is anyone is free to respond or not as they choose), those who respond cannot be considered a representative sample.
  • The values in the charts for closed questions show only those who completed the online questionnaire or submitted a response using the format of the online questionnaire.
  • Even within the subset of respondents who responded using the questionnaire, some of these respondents chose not to answer some of the closed questions on the questionnaire.


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