Climate change - Net Zero Nation: public engagement strategy

Sets out our overarching 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.

Ministerial Foreword

We have committed to becoming a net zero nation by 2045. Expert advice has been clear that over 60% of the measures needed for Scotland to reach net zero will require some level of change in the way society operates. It is therefore vital that everyone in our society understands the nature and scale of the climate emergency and has the opportunity to participate and shape decisions about our national approach to tackling it.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the consultation to develop our Net Zero Nation: Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change. Your views have been extremely valuable in ensuring that this is a strategy that works for everyone across Scotland. The fantastic response and engagement we’ve had shows that there is a real appetite for our public engagement approach on climate change.

Our efforts to both mitigate and adapt to climate change will fundamentally change the way we live. Some of this won’t be easy, but these changes are required and are already happening. They will result in positive outcomes for people, such as health and wellbeing benefits from active travel and reduced pollution, cost savings from energy efficiency, and also place-based benefits, such as creating more resilient communities that are cleaner, less congested, and more accessible.

Recognising the need to take citizens with us on the journey to net zero, in 2020 we established an independent Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change. The Assembly brought together a representative group of around 100 people who together provided public recommendations on Scotland’s approach to climate change, which will be used to influence policy decisions. This shows our commitment to the participative approach set out in this strategy and our commitment to the principles of being an Open Government.

This year the eyes of the world will be on Scotland, with the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 – being held in Glasgow in November. It is critical that this summit is inclusive and the discussions and outcomes put people, communities and a just transition at their centre.

I want people to come to Glasgow and receive a warm Scottish welcome. I also want the people of Scotland to engage with this opportunity to play our part in creating the conditions for a successful summit by showcasing the breadth of climate action and leadership across Scotland, setting examples for others to follow. It is also crucial that COP26 delivers a positive legacy for the people of Scotland, increasing awareness of our targets and the collective effort required, and inspiring greater action to help achieve net zero.

We know that public support is crucial in order to successfully achieve the transformational societal change required to reach net zero. We also know that the government cannot be the only communicator on climate change issues. This strategy is therefore aimed at climate change communicators – or ‘trusted messengers’ – who can more effectively engage people in their sphere of influence.

This document sets out how we will continue to work with these messengers over the next five years to deliver a green recovery from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic whilst moving towards our net zero targets. By making changes in partnership, I’m confident we can build a fairer and more sustainable society together.

The scale of the challenges we have faced over the last 18 months have been unprecedented in recent times. It has also been a period where we have appreciated what makes Scotland special: our people, our communities, and our values. We have come together as a society to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic – to safeguard our communities, save jobs, and save lives. Throughout all of this, we have maintained our commitment to climate change. The context which we are working in has changed, but our commitment to our end goal of becoming a net zero nation by 2045 has never wavered.

Our climate change ambitions are at the heart of our green recovery from the pandemic as we respond to the twin crises of the climate emergency and nature loss. Put simply, a green recovery is one that captures the opportunities for our just transition to net zero – which means creating green jobs, developing sustainable skills and nurturing wellbeing. The update to the 2018 Climate Change Plan, published in December 2020, sets out our policies and proposals to meet our future emissions reduction targets, and is a key strategic document in our green recovery from the pandemic.

During the pandemic, we have seen every aspect of our lives change, from how we work, how we travel, to how we communicate with one another. Although this has been incredibly difficult for many people, it has also shown us all that it’s possible to do things differently, to re-imagine how our society and economy works. Our continued response to climate change and our journey towards becoming a net zero nation must be a truly national endeavour and one in which everyone in Scotland has a role to play and is enabled to get involved. This includes governments, organisations, businesses, communities, and individuals all coming together to play our part. We look forward to continuing to work with you all closely over the next five years.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport



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