Climate change - Net Zero Nation - draft public engagement strategy: consultation analysis

Analysis of the responses to the public consultation on the climate change - Net Zero Nation: draft public engagement strategy, which sets out our framework for engaging the people of Scotland in the transition to a net zero nation which is prepared for the effects of our changing climate.


In December 2020, the Scottish Government published a draft public engagement strategy which provides a framework for engaging Scotland's citizens in the transition to net zero emissions by 2045[1].

The Scottish Government is required by law to prepare and publish an up to date public engagement strategy for climate change. The ambitious new strategy aims to inform and advise the public about the widespread social changes that need to happen, garnering stronger support and action to achieve Scotland's goals. This reflects a significantly changed context since the last public engagement strategy for climate change was published in 2013[2]. In particular, the Green Recovery is recognised as a route to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and an important means to tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. The Climate Change Plan update[3], published alongside the strategy, sets out the Scottish Government's policies and proposals to meet future emissions reduction targets.

A consultation on the draft public engagement strategy opened on 16th December 2020 and closed on 31st March 2021. Through 19 open consultation questions[4], participants were asked their views on important aspects of the strategy. A full list of the consultation questions is available in Appendix C.

The consultation is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to understand a wide variety of stakeholders' views on the draft strategy, which will shape the approach to the final strategy and its implementation.


The consultation received 178 responses. Of these, 139 were submitted via the online consultation platform Citizen Space. A further 39 submitted a response by email in an alternative format, for example, a PDF document. In addition, the Scottish Government hosted an online consultation event which was attended by several equality organisations; a transcript of the discussion was included in the analysis.

Over a fifth of responses (40) came from individuals[5], with the remainder (138) from a variety of organisations. A sectoral analysis of organisations that participated in the consultation is shown overleaf[6]:

Number of responses by sector

Bar chart showing number of responses by sector. 27 responses from eNGOs; 20 responses from community/grassroots organisations; 20 responses from membership organisations/associations; 14 responses from Public Bodies; 14 responses from colleges/universities/research organisations; 12 responses from equality / advocacy groups; 12 responses from other third sector organisations; 11 responses from local authorities/community councils; 7 responses from businesses.

The bar chart also shows that cumulatively there are 71 responses from the third sector, including all responses from eNGOs, community/grassroots organisations, equality/advocacy groups, and other third sector organisations, and 25 responses from the public sector, which includes Public Bodies as well as local authorities/community councils.

It should be noted that a small number of responses referred to, drew upon or endorsed the submissions made by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN). Each of these responses have been treated as separate submissions.

Responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be found on the Scottish Government's website. Many used their responses to highlight examples of research, best practice or work being undertaken by organisations in the climate change arena. While some provided references or weblinks to source material or organisations, they were often discussed in general terms. It is not possible within the scope of this report to detail all the source material where references or links were provided; readers are directed to review the individual responses online for links to source material they are interested in.

Approach to analysis and reporting

The Lines Between was commissioned to provide an independent and robust analysis of the responses to the consultation. This report presents the range of views expressed and trends in comments and is structured around the themes identified in responses to each question. Where response themes span questions, thematic analysis is provided, with signposting elsewhere in the report as relevant to avoid duplication.

The analyst team applied a qualitative coding framework based on a review of the consultation questions and sample of responses. Three alternative format responses contained information that did not align with specific questions. The analysts exercised judgement about the most suitable place to include this material for analysis purposes.

While qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit quantifying results, the weight of a particular view is signified using the following framework. Where there are several themes, the narrative indicates which are the most common or prevalent across responses:

  • The most common theme / the most prevalent theme in responses (and second most common), i.e. the most frequently identified.
  • 'Many' respondents (more than 40), i.e. a common theme, but not the most prevalent.
  • 'Several' respondents (20-39), i.e. a recurring theme.
  • 'Some' respondents (10-19), i.e. another theme.
  • 'A few' or 'a small number' of respondents (3-9); a less frequently mentioned theme.
  • Where only one or two people made a specific point, this is described as 'two respondents' and 'one respondent' / 'a singular comment'.

Report Structure

This report is set out as follows:

  • Chapter 1 presents the analysis of responses to questions one to three, which cover the overall approach to public engagement on climate change, including the key objectives and principles.
  • Chapter 2 covers the analysis of responses to question four concerning the Green Recovery.
  • Chapter 3 addresses questions five and six, on the first strategic theme: communicating climate change policy.
  • Chapter 4 covers questions seven and eight, and the second strategic theme: enabling participation in policy design.
  • Chapter 5 presents the analysis of responses to questions nine and ten on the third strategic theme: encouraging action.
  • Chapter 6 addresses Q11 - Q13, which consider COP26.
  • Chapter 7 covers Q14 and Q15 around monitoring and evaluation.
  • Conclusions are set out in Chapter 8.

A quantitative summary of the total number of responses to each consultation question is included as Appendix C.



Back to top