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.

6. COP26

This chapter contains an analysis of responses to questions 11, 12 and 13, which concern the upcoming 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in 2021.

Key Findings:

  • Most respondents agreed that COP26 has the potential to create a positive legacy. They felt this could be achieved by establishing global partnerships and boosting Scotland’s reputation as a leader in climate change action. However, this would require the meeting to deliver world changing commitments.
  • It is also seen as a unique opportunity to engage and educate Scotland’s public. Respondents gave their views on how best to deliver the “people” theme for COP26.
  • The most prevalent suggestion was that the Scottish Government should adopt a localised approach and work with communities across Scotland. Some felt that showcasing examples of local community climate action would be a positive approach.
  • Several respondents stressed the importance of embracing diversity, equality and inclusion at COP26, and called on the Scottish Government to engage with a broad range of communities across Scotland.
  • Respondents named a range of established organisations who they felt the Scottish Government should collaborate with. They also highlighted a range of other initiatives for the Scottish Government to considered supporting ahead of COP26, covering community, national and international initiatives and youth and education initiatives.

Question 11 asked respondents to explain how COP26 can help deliver a positive legacy for the people of Scotland.

Q11. How do you think COP26 can help deliver a positive legacy for people of Scotland and climate action?

Over four fifths of respondents (145/178) answered question eleven. Most agreed that COP26 has the potential to leave a lasting positive legacy for the people of Scotland. They felt this could be achieved through making world-changing commitments on an international stage at the summit. Respondents noted that COP26 presents an opportunity to engage with a wide audience and boost Scotland's reputation as a leader in climate change action. Others highlighted lessons from previous events, such as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the London Olympics and the Paris Climate Change Accord, noting how the event can be used as a springboard to direct the next generation towards a more environmentally conscious future.

Boosting Scotland's reputation

The most prevalent theme among responses to Question 11 was the potential for COP26 to boost Scotland's reputation as a leader in climate change action. Respondents explained that the event provides an international stage to promote Scottish enterprise, innovation and environmental solutions.

"COP26 provides the platform for Scotland to showcase the enthusiasm and commitment to net-zero emissions with many examples of action which has been taken to support the net-zero targets. Scotland is leading the UK in terms of mitigation and adaptation, and this should be celebrated at COP26, delivering a positive legacy for Scotland in a global context." – Dumfries & Galloway Council

Many respondents felt that COP26 should be used as a platform to showcase Scotland's efforts to address the climate emergency and celebrate examples of community climate action work taking place across Scotland. Some added that sharing learning and success stories will help to establish Scotland as a global leader in climate action.

One respondent noted that COP26 would be an ideal time to share details on Scotland's efforts in the Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) industry.

World-changing commitments

Many respondents advised that in order to deliver a positive legacy from COP26, major climate-related commitments and targets must be agreed upon at the summit. Some respondents described generic commitments, for example a commitment to bring climate change under control and to reverse the degradation of the environment. However, others advocated for more specific commitments, such as commitments to peatland restoration, the decarbonisation of public transport, more climate change education and the introduction of Climate Income.

A few noted that commitments alone will not be enough to achieve a long-lasting legacy, but rather, long-term collective action after COP26 is required.

Opportunity to raise awareness among a wide audience

Several respondents pointed out that COP26 is a unique opportunity to engage the wider public in Scotland with issues around the climate emergency, including those who are not yet particularly engaged. Others added that the event should be used to improve general understanding of and engagement in climate action across Scotland.

"COP26 provides an opportunity for people across Scotland to engage with governments and businesses at all levels on climate change, sharing plans and activity to tackle climate change." - Chiesi

A few insisted that for COP26 to have a positive legacy, people in Scotland must be involved and invested in the event and any resulting agreements. They stressed the importance of raising public awareness of the event, with a few raising concerns that not enough is being done to promote COP26 and awareness is low among many groups. Some respondents suggested that in order to engage as many people as possible, a wide variety of channels should be used, including online and on-street advertising.

International collaboration

Establishing global partnerships and links was seen as an important way to achieve a positive legacy for COP26 by several respondents. They suggested that building international relationships would provide opportunities to share learning and resources, co-develop solutions and promote long-term action. One respondent noted some additional benefits that such partnerships would have for Scotland.

A few specified that these global partnerships could be achieved at a governmental level, and also on a smaller scale by pairing towns, schools, and colleges with other institutions across the world.

"It is an opportunity to forge lasting connections internationally regarding both new innovative ideas and established best practice. Through being open to sharing and learning our experiences and listening to the experiences of others, Scotland can become a world leader in scientific, technological and social advances, working towards a fairer, healthier and environmentally friendly place to live, work and visit." - National Trust for Scotland

Lessons from previous events

Some respondents referenced other historic international events in their responses, either drawing comparisons or pointing out where lessons could be learned from successful events held in recent years. For example, a few said that they hoped that COP26 would emulate the success of the Paris Climate Agreement and that Glasgow would become as synonymous with positive global climate action as Paris.

A small number noted that lessons could be learned from the positive legacy, impact and public engagement activities relating to the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. In addition, the 2050 Climate Group described how the Scottish Government could learn from the organisers of the 2012 London Olympics:

"As an example of successful engagement, in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London, there was a concerted effort to inspire the next generation of athletes. There was a commitment to help people connect to sport by focusing the world's attention on the greatest athletes and giving young people better access to sports facilities, competition, coaching and sporting events. The Scottish Government should take a similar approach by focusing attention on the world's most inspiring climate activists and influencers and funding increased climate education, events and green innovation to direct the next generation towards a better, healthier future." – 2050 Climate Group

The Church of Scotland offered a comparison between COP26 and the Make Poverty History movement, saying: "it was clear that Make Poverty History, in its moment, was a significant point of entry into acting, campaigning and other forms of activism and we have a similar opportunity to do the same now."

Q12. How can we work with stakeholders and actors across Scotland to deliver our "people" theme for COP26?

Approximately two-thirds of respondents (120/178) answered Question 12, which asked how the "people" theme could best be delivered at COP26. Respondents offered various ideas on how the Scottish Government can work with stakeholders to deliver the "people" theme for COP26. The most popular suggestions explored ways in which the Scottish Government can work with diverse groups, communities and engaged groups. A few respondents suggested delivering pre-events in the run-up to COP26 to maximise public engagement with the event.

Working with communities

The most prevalent theme in responses to Question 12 was the suggestion that the Scottish Government should adopt a localised approach and focus on working with communities across Scotland to deliver the "people" theme for COP26. Respondents noted that COP26 is an opportunity to demonstrate the role that communities can play in taking action against climate change.

Some respondents felt that working with stakeholders to showcase examples of local community climate action across Scotland would be a positive way to deliver the "people" theme at COP26. A few put forward the idea of communities hosting their own mini-COP26 events to drive local action and engagement with the summit.

"Involving as many local organisations (e.g. community groups, schools, local council, businesses etc.) in COP26 will be key to ensuring people are engaged with the event, feel they are represented and empower them to have their say." – Greener Kircaldy

Working with diverse groups

Several respondents stressed the importance of embracing diversity, equality and inclusion at COP26. They felt that in order for the "people" theme to be delivered, the Scottish Government must engage with a broad range of communities across Scotland. Respondents wish to see diversity in representation at the event in terms of ethnicity, age, gender, disability, socioeconomic background and urban/rural divide.

A few added that the best way to ensure that the event is fully representative of Scotland's population is to work with specialist organisations that represent diverse communities. In the equality workshop, representatives of these organisations requested they are involved from the outset so that they can advise on what challenges might be experienced in communicating with people from specific audiences and help overcome these.

"Scottish Government should do whatever it can to make sure that spaces are available for diverse groups and organisations to take part at COP26 to make sure the voices of diverse communities are meaningfully heard." – Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

Working with engaged groups

Several respondents suggested that the Scottish Government should work with established groups and organisations that are engaged with issues related to the environment to deliver the "people" theme. They felt these organisations would be best placed to engage and communicate with the public about COP26.

Respondents named organisations such as Sustainable Scotland Network, Innovation Centre Networks, Inspiring Scotland, 2050 Climate Group, YoungScot and Creative Carbon Scotland as key groups for the Scottish Government to collaborate with. Universities and schools were also mentioned by a few respondents.

Others noted that it was crucial for businesses to be included in any stakeholder engagement the Scottish Government undertakes during COP26.

Enabling remote participation in the event

Enabling participation in the event in remote locations and through online platforms was suggested by a few respondents. They suggested organising online workshops, hosting satellite COP26 events across Scotland and creating a "People for COP26" online forum. Respondents felt this would increase accessibility and help more people from across Scotland and other countries get involved. Another benefit noted was that it would result in fewer people travelling to Glasgow, which would lower the carbon footprint for the event. A few others noted that social media and apps would be a suitable way to reach members of the public who are not usually active and interested in the climate discussion.

"Social media provides an interactive platform for broad public engagement which has been underutilised in Scottish international policy; using online quizzes, videos, and games could help involve a broader audience." - Individual

Creative approaches

A few respondents described some creative approaches that the Scottish Government could use to deliver the "people" theme at COP26, for example theatre, song and poetry. The idea of making narratives and short films about people's experiences and understanding of the climate emergency was suggested by more than one respondent. One suggested that the creative sector as a whole could be actively involved and work with the Scottish Government to create projects which help people and communities to contribute positively to climate action.

Q13. Are there other initiatives that the Scottish Government should consider joining or supporting ahead of COP26?

Question 13 asked respondents for examples of initiatives that the Scottish Government should engage with before COP26. More than half of the respondents (102/178) provided an answer to Question 13. A wide array of initiatives were described. Some respondents gave general suggestions, for example that the Scottish Government should support placemaking initiatives, renewable energy projects and low carbon and climate action related initiatives. Others mentioned specific campaigns and organisations that the Scottish Government should engage with. The section below describes some of the examples put forward by respondents in the following sub-categories: local/community initiatives; national initiatives; international initiatives; youth-centric initiatives; and initiatives in the education sector.

Local community initiatives

Several respondents were eager for the Scottish Government to support local community projects. A few referred to the success of local Climate Action groups. One respondent suggested the Scottish Government should show support for community net zero visioning' events and encourage as many communities as possible to have such an event in the run-up to COP26. Another advocated for community gardening projects, saying they are helpful both in contributing to environmental goals and connecting neighbourhoods. GoBike Strathclyde Cycle Campaign noted the need to ensure walkways and cycleways along the Clyde are open and improved to allow people to get to the event.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) described 'Highland Adapts', an initiative run in collaboration with several other organisations including Highland Council, NHS Highland and NatureScot. The project supports Highland communities to engage in climate adaptation, identifies challenges and define future priorities.

National organisations and networks

Several respondents suggested that the Scottish Government should engage with national organisations and networks working across Scotland. These included Development Trusts Association Scotland, Fields In Trust, Sustainable Scotland Network, Scottish Communities Climate Action Network, Climate Beacons for COP26, Community Resources Network Scotland, the Bioeconomy Cluster Builder project, and the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum.

International initiatives

A number of international initiatives were mentioned by respondents including The Under2 Coalition and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Race to Zero campaign. Historic Environment Scotland described the Climate Heritage Network, an international network whose members share a common commitment to strengthening the use of arts, culture and heritage to address climate change and support communities in achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Other international campaigns that respondents suggested the Scottish Government should support included 'Healthy Environment is a Right', 'Count Us In' and the Climate Engagement Initiative (CEI). CEI was described as an international multi-stakeholder initiative to increase the profile of public engagement and the application of previous binding commitments to engagement, education and participation.

"Globally, more than 2,000 companies of all sizes have joined the UNFCCC Race to Zero so far. With COP26 in Glasgow later this year, the Scottish Government should encourage businesses to take urgent action on their carbon emissions by signing up to Race to Zero and setting out clear pathways to get to net zero." - SSE Group

Examples in the education sector

Some respondents suggested that the Scottish Government should support various initiatives in the education sector in the lead up to COP26. Two respondents advised that the Scottish Government should work with the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges. The Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (based within the University of Edinburgh) noted that the COP26 Universities Network presents an opportunity for the Scottish Government to engage with research and tertiary education providers in terms of COP26 activities, international partnerships, academics and students. Other respondents focussed on climate change education initiatives, including Learning for Sustainability Scotland and the Climate Literacy Project.

Youth initiatives

Initiatives centred on youth participation suggested by a few respondents included:

  • The Glasgow Youth Climate Participatory Democracy Project, which uses theatre to engage in deliberative dialogue with young people around issues relating to COP26;
  • The 2050 Climate Group's Youth Climate Summit;
  • The Youth Environmental Summit organised by the British Conservation Alliance; and
  • The Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action.

Other initiatives

Other initiatives noted by respondents included the Fork to Farm Dialogues, which seeks to enhance participation of food producers in local food system governance through dialogues between farmers and local governments, the #MakeEcocideLaw campaign and the reintroduction of the Circular Economy Bill to the Scottish Parliament.

A few respondents suggested that the Scottish Government should avoid supporting any new initiatives and instead focus on consolidating key messages related to encouraging climate change action and a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.



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