Publication - FOI/EIR release

Communication with United States Government in relation to Cop26: FOI release

Published: 9 Nov 2021

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
9 Nov 2021
Communication with United States Government in relation to Cop26: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100238954
Date received: 13 Sep 2021
Date responded: 14 Oct 2021
Information requested

1. Any correspondence between the Scottish Government and US Government in relation to Cop26 in the last six months. This should include emails, letters, invites, call logs and any documents shared.

2. Any correspondence between the First Minister's office and the US Government in relation to Cop26 in the last six months. This should include emails, letters, invites, call logs and any documents shared

Response

Attached is a copy of some of the information requested at the separately attached Annex.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections 30(b)(ii) - substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of views and s.32(1)(a) (substantial prejudice to international relations) of FOISA applies to that information. These exemptions are subject to the 'public interest test' and the reasons why these exemptions apply are explained at the base of this reply.

Exemptions under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA also apply to some of the information you have requested. This is because it is the personal data of a third party, specifically the names/contact points of individuals, and disclosing them would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test

30(b)(ii) - substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of views

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested because the information relates to deliberation/exchanges of views on particular issues. These exemptions are subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the view that there is a greater public interest in ensuring officials – both within Scottish Government and in other governments with which we engage – have the freedom to express, exchange and deliberate views on topics of sensitivity. There are several factors to this weighting, including: the circumstances in which the views were given (during policy formulation around sub national approaches to/roles in tackling climate change); and timing, when disclosure could harm both the development of such approaches and inhibit officials’ future exchange of views.

Section 32(1)(a) (substantial prejudice to international relations)
An exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) of FOISA (substantial prejudice to international relations - between the UK and any other State) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to engagement between representatives of the Scottish Government – the devolved administration of a constituent part of the UK – and the US government. These exemptions are subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the view that disclosure of these exchanges – between officials and/or representatives – which are engaged in on a basis of mutual confidence, would result in damage to and erosion of the trust between Scotland (and therefore the UK’s) relationship with US counterparts.

About FOI
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FOI202100238954 - Annex

14 page PDF
1.0 MB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG