Appendix A: Question 3: Detailed analysis
Q3a. Do you have any other comments on our overall approach?
Question 3a asked respondents for any other comments on the Scottish Government's overall approach to public engagement on climate change.
Just over half of respondents (93/178) provided an answer. Given the open nature of this question, responses were varied. Some used the opportunity to express general support for the objectives and plans in the strategy. Others pointed out areas they felt required more focus and stressed the importance of effective, clear and urgent messaging. The section below provides an overview of the themes evident in responses.
Focused engagement efforts with specific groups
Some respondents noted that while the approach set out is suitable for overall engagement, the Scottish Government should make more focused efforts to engage with different audiences. A few felt more should be done to engage with businesses and corporations to ensure they operate in a more environmentally friendly way. They advised that businesses and corporations will require a tailored approach or even a separate strategy to drive engagement.
Others felt there should be more in the strategy about reaching disengaged groups. They expressed concern that the strategy does not set out which groups are currently not engaging with climate change action and how it intends to reach out to them proactively. They felt the current approach might only be effective in reaching those already engaged with climate action. Other groups which respondents felt would benefit from focused engagement included rural communities, faith groups, students and young people.
Clear, effective and urgent messaging
Clarity and transparency in messaging were urged by some respondents who felt actions should be clearly set out and communicated to the public. One respondent felt that desired changes in behaviours by individuals and communities were more likely to be achieved if communications outlined actions in the short, medium and longer terms.
Some respondents felt the strategy does not reflect the urgency of the climate emergency and that more specific actions and targets should be set to ensure implementation. Creative Carbon Scotland urged the Scottish Government to adopt a bolder, more innovative and expansive approach in realising its net zero objectives. Transition Black Isle listed several suggestions of how the actions set out in Annex A could be emboldened or improved, for example, by the Government issuing advice about limiting leisure travel and strategies to save water at home.
Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic
A few respondents suggested learning lessons from the effectiveness of government communication and public engagement throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that the crisis is good example of engaging the population, and that the climate emergency should be treated in the same way. The University of Stirling commented that the pandemic demonstrated that governments can: "rework our daily routines, change how and when we use infrastructure, open new infrastructure quickly, repurpose jobs, relocate labour and ban certain practices."
A small number of respondents used this question to make comments about the consultation process, articulating that the consultation should have been more promoted more widely and more accessible. Respondents pointed to the lengthy consultation document and technical jargon used throughout as barriers for a public audience.
An increase in climate education among the general public was cited as a priority by a few respondents. They felt that it will be difficult to engage people with climate policy and action without high levels of climate science literacy.
While they appreciated the approach of encouraging people to make changes that will help combat climate change, a small number noted the success of the strategy will depend on the ability of those in power to facilitate these changes. One gave an example of local authorities ensuring that recycling bins are emptied regularly. Another noted that local authorities need resources, direction and guidance from the Scottish Government to deliver the strategy locally.
A few respondents noted that it would be beneficial to include more in the strategy about the value of collaborative working across organisations. One respondent saw value in including a strategic objective based around collaborative work. Another was eager to learn about how the Scottish Government and UK Government will work together to promote public engagement with climate action.
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