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.

Section 2: Our Activities and Initiatives

This section sets out activities and initiatives that will contribute to meeting the strategy’s three strategic objectives. Some of these are already underway and will be continued, while some will involve new activity.

The activities and initiatives are organised according to the five categories of participation in the Public Participation Spectrum[22]: Inform; Consult; Involve; Collaborate; Empower. The International Association for Public Participation identify these as the five key roles that the public can play in any participation process. This model has also been adapted to form the basis of the Scottish Government’s Participation Framework, which guides good practice in participation across government.

Case study examples are provided throughout to illustrate activities. A more detailed visualisation of how the activities and initiatives relate to the three strategic objectives is shown in the Theory of Change diagram at Annex B.


Our approach and principles relating to climate change communications are to reach all of Scotland – through the use of trusted messengers and a variety of communication channels – to be positive in our messaging, to ensure messages are evidence-based, and to make messages easy to engage with, by being accessible and avoiding jargon and technical language where possible.

Public Awareness Campaigns (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

Carefully designed, evidence-based public awareness campaigns can help highlight the relevance of climate change to people in Scotland and play a role in encouraging action. Marketing activity has an important role to play in raising awareness amongst individuals and organisations of the scale of change needed to tackle climate change, the policies being developed by the Scottish Government to respond to climate change at home and overseas, and the role of government, organisations and individuals in getting Scotland to net zero.

Whilst climate change is largely embedded in the public consciousness, new and compelling narratives are required to create a sense of urgency, agency and buy-in for the changes ahead. Building climate change narratives that resonate with a diverse range of values and concerns is critical for the long-term goal of deepening public engagement.

National campaigns also play an important role in highlighting and normalising sustainable behaviours. Providing information about the lifestyles changes we need to make can help increase uptake. We know it is vital that people see their individual actions within the context of the bigger picture: if individuals and organisations feel they’re tackling this alone, it is easy to lose heart. It is important that we showcase the work done by government and other organisations across Scotland to tackle climate change to help to build belief in the importance of individual action in supporting the transition.

In 2021, we launched a new national marketing campaign – Let’s do Net Zero (see case study below), to inform people about the climate emergency, the need for action and what Scotland is doing in response. This is an opportunity to raise climate change to the top of the agenda, showcasing the progress Scotland has already made on tackling climate change while reinforcing the message that significant work is still to be done.

We are planning to run similar campaigns on a regular basis. We are evaluating campaign activity to understand its reach and impact, and will apply learning to future marketing activity. We also commit to including children and young people in future marketing research to ensure their voices are heard.

Our engagement principles are embedded in this activity, particularly in ensuring information is accessible and positive, and that we work with others to ensure messaging in coherent. We know that not everyone in Scotland has the same views and beliefs.

Case Study - Let’s do Net Zero

The Let’s do Net Zero national marketing campaign was launched in June 2021, to inform people about the climate emergency, help them understand the need for action, and what Scotland is doing in response. Spanning across three different phases, the campaign was shown across television, radio, out-of-home media, print media, social media and other digital forms.

The first phase of content – the Climate Emergency – aimed to raise awareness of the climate emergency amongst the Scottish public and the consequences of inaction. The second phase – Scotland is Taking Action – showcased the range of actions that the Scottish Government is taking to tackle the climate emergency and promoted the need for collective action across all aspects of society. The third and final phase will take place in October 2021, ahead of COP26, and will combine the elements of the previous phases that have been most engaged with.

Developing the marketing campaign has been a cross-government effort, drawing on areas such as transport, waste, energy and food and drink. The campaign content is rooted in evidence. In developing the activity we drew on credible existing research and carried out a series of focus groups to test concepts.

Net Zero Nation Website (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

During Scotland’s Climate Week in 2020 we launched the first stage of our new communications approach, the Net Zero Nation website. This website provides an accessible and interactive tool for public engagement on climate change over the coming years. It is a ‘one stop shop’ for individuals, communities, businesses and organisations looking for information about what they can do to tackle the climate emergency in all aspects of their lives, with detailed information on various climate actions and the available support for carrying them out. It also provides information on upcoming events. The website hosts all government produced resources for climate change, including toolkits to hold climate conversations with friends, family, neighbours or staff, and support materials for organisations to get involved in events such as Climate Week.

Communicating Climate Impacts (Objective 1: Understand)

The Adaptation Scotland programme[23] is funded by the Scottish Government to support capacity building and action on adaptation and resilience in the public sector, businesses and communities across Scotland. The programme supports the development and expansion of place-based initiatives which drive effective adaptation action across cities, regions, islands and localities, aligned with the interests and needs of communities.

Adaptation Scotland’s resources, such as a summary of key future climate projections for Scotland and the Climate Ready Places tool, helps to provide communities and the public (as well as organisations) with the information they need to engage with, and plan for, the impacts of climate change.

The programme also supports public bodies to develop adaptation capabilities that enable them to take adaptation action at the right time and in an effective way through their award-winning Adaptation Capability Framework[24].

As well as working with Adaptation Scotland, we also routinely carry out research projects to examine the impacts of climate change in Scotland and how they affect different population groups, and measure public awareness of climate risk. We will use the research findings to inform how best to engage those groups at risk of climate impacts.

Ensuring Accessibility (Objective 1: Understand)

We will communicate through a variety of channels to reach different audiences in ways that are most appropriate and engaging for them. These include both traditional channels, such as print media, radio, out-of-home advertisements, and digital channels, including email, websites, social media. Our partnership with trusted messengers, both within geographical and non-place-based communities, will ensure that we extend our communications reach into those who are least engaged.

Recent research shows that awareness of climate change terms is low across Scotland’s population. A survey of over 1,000 Scots found that, while almost half (48%) of people have heard of the climate emergency, familiarity with net zero (38%), the green recovery (28%), planetary health (13%) and a just transition (3%) were much lower[25].

Given the current low level of climate knowledge, we know it is important for our communication to be accessible and easily understood. We will avoid using technical language and jargon. Where possible, we will also ensure our key communications are available in accessible formats, such as large print, Easy Read and British Sign Language.

Promoting Positive Messaging (Objective 1: Understand)

We recognise that climate distress (see case study below) is a reality for many people in Scotland. It is important to consider this in our engagement activity and counteract it where possible through the use of positive and realistic messaging. We will demonstrate how individual action is part of the bigger picture and contributing to positive societal change, which will maintain hope among the public. We recognise that this alone will not prevent climate distress, and we will also use our communications channels to help support those experiencing climate distress and point them towards relevant resources.

Case Study - Climate Distress

As people learn about and face up to the risks and impacts of climate change, they are likely to experience feelings such as worry, fear or anxiety, as well as other emotions such as sadness, anger, shame or guilt. It is also common to feel mixed emotions, such as both hopeful and worried.

These feelings are understood by climate psychologists to be appropriate responses – they are a sign that a person is in touch with the severity of the climate emergency.

Such emotional responses are also common. For example, one study found around a third (34%) of adults and almost half (45%) of 16-24 year olds felt anxious about the environmental crisis[26], and another study with 8-16 year olds found that almost three quarters (73%) were worried about the state of the planet[27].

Although these emotions can be considered to be both appropriate and common, they can be distressing and difficult to experience. This can lead people to feel overwhelmed or numb, to want to avoid thinking about climate change, and to push the emotions away or suppress them. However, difficult emotions can be managed in a healthy way that motivates positive action and helps build psychological resilience. This is important because chronic emotional stress and suppression of emotions over the long-term can have negative impacts on health and wellbeing and can undermine people’s capacity to get to grips with the climate emergency.

Update to the 2018 Climate Change Plan (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

Our updated Climate Change Plan includes over 200 policies and proposals aiming to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions up to 2032. Many of these will impact directly upon the daily lives of the Scottish public, and some will seek to engage members of the public, for example, through consultations or pilots. In many cases, the success of these policies hinges on effective engagement with the public.

In transport, for example, commitments to reduce car kilometres and increase public transport use depends, along with ensuring increased access to infrastructure, on communicating a strong case to the public. Equally, the success of some buildings policies is dependent on increasing people’s awareness of the options available to them to improve energy efficiency and move towards zero emissions heating systems, while supporting them to make well informed choices that are most appropriate for them.

We are now focusing on implementing the updated Plan, and in doing so we will seek to embed public engagement on climate change across all parts of the Scottish Government. As we look ahead to our next full Climate Change Plan, we will ensure that the public is kept aware of upcoming policies both by communicating directly and by working with delivery partners in the public, private and third sectors.


Enhanced Consultation (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 2: Participate)

Openness is a core value of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework. The Scottish Government is committed to being an Open Government and is a member of the international Open Government Partnership. An Open Government is one which values openness, accountability, transparency, and involving people.

Improving the way people are able to participate in policymaking is one of the core commitments of our Open Government Action Plan. Our updated Climate Change Plan reflects our commitment to Open Government, containing numerous commitments to consult with the people who will be affected by changes in policy. Work towards meeting this commitment includes the development of a ‘Participation Framework’.

We will ensure that this framework guides the approach taken to climate change policy development.

Just Transition (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 2: Participate; Objective 3: Act)

Achieving our shared vision for a just transition, whereby actions taken to reach net zero improve our wellbeing as a nation, is a long-term mission. We have embedded the principle of just transition in our climate change legislation.

The Just Transition Commission was established by Scottish Ministers to advise on how just transition principles could be applied to climate change action in Scotland. The independent commission has already engaged extensively with industry and with communities across Scotland.

We accept all of the recommendations related to public dialogue and participation and we will continue to work with the Commission to progress these and embed them within our approach. This includes a commitment to carry out more engagement activities with groups identified by the Commission which are most likely to be impacted by the transition.

The Commission placed great emphasis on participation and involvement and this is already reflected in our approach to policymaking. The transition to net zero will affect our day-to-day lives in all sorts of ways and we are committed to ensuring that people, places, and communities are empowered to play a decisive role in shaping these changes.

The Commission also stressed the importance of planning. In response, we have set out our approach in a National Just Transition Planning Framework. The principles of co-design and co-delivery are central. We will be coordinating the development of key transition plans and each will be co-designed and co-delivered with those who stand to be most significantly impacted by the transition to net zero.

We will ensure that those most affected by our transition to net zero are actively engaged in the policies affecting them.


Scotland’s Climate Assembly (Objective 2: Participate)

Scotland’s Climate Assembly has been a crucial part of involving citizens in our transition to net zero and of our commitment to Open Government. The independent Assembly brought together over 100 individuals, representative of the Scottish population, to learn about, discuss, and make recommendations on ‘how should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’. The recommendations were published by the Assembly in June 2021, and will require a comprehensive and cross-government response in line with the requirements of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

We will ensure that the lessons learned from Scotland’s Climate Assembly and the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland are applied to future deliberative approaches to public engagement across climate change and environmental policy.

Case Study - Scotland’s Climate Assembly and Children’s Parliament

A commitment to establish Scotland’s Climate Assembly was included within the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2019. Over 100 people were recruited, representative of the Scottish population, and deliberated on evidence from over 100 expert speakers. They met virtually between November 2020 and March 2021 to respond to the question: ‘How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’. They laid their full report[28], containing 81 recommendations, in the Scottish Parliament on 23 June 2021. By law, the Scottish Government have six months to respond to their recommendations.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly Members were aged 16 and over, so the Children’s Parliament were invited to support the participation and engagement of younger children across Scotland, to ensure their views, experiences, and ideas informed the discussions and recommendations. During Assembly meetings the views and insights from the young investigators were shared with the Assembly members through video contributions. A smaller group of adult Assembly members also met with the child investigators to discuss the recommendations being drafted. The children’s Calls to Action are fully integrated with the adults’ Recommendations in the Assembly’s report. Children’s participation in Scotland’s Climate Assembly has been a unique and significant realisation of children’s right to participate in decision making processes, at a historic moment in time as children’s human rights outlined in the UNCRC becomes part of Scots Law. They took a hope-based, solution-focused approach underpinned by a commitment to upholding and further realising children’s human rights, with the support of climate distress experts[29], to ensure children felt valued, supported and empowered in this process.

Climate Engagements and Conversations (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 2: Participate; Objective 3: Act)

Engaging in conversations about climate change as part of our daily lives plays a vital role in creating the social change required across the country. Conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and in your local community are vitally important to broaden climate knowledge beyond the ‘bubbles’ of engaged groups. The Scottish Government has led the way in developing and promoting climate conversations[30] as a means to share views and improve climate literacy, culminating in the Big Climate Conversation in 2019.

We will continue to develop and promote climate engagements and conversations throughout Scotland in a variety of formats including with increased use of digital approaches. We will provide resources, such as toolkits with key messaging, definitions and examples of positive behaviours, to facilitate climate conversations and events across the nation, and we will signpost to funding for these types of events where available. All resources will be hosted on our Net Zero Nation website.

We will continue to develop and facilitate meaningful climate engagements and conversations at both regional and national level as a part of our green recovery from COVID-19 and beyond.

Facilitating Participation from Children and Young People (Objective 2: Participate)

2019 was a landmark year for youth engagement in climate change, as young people across the world stepped up and demanded climate action to protect their futures. In March 2021, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament, signalling a revolution in children’s rights in Scotland. When the Bill receives royal assent, it will deliver a proactive culture of everyday accountability for children’s rights across public services in Scotland. The Bill will ensure that public authorities take proactive steps to ensure the protection of children’s rights in their decision making and service delivery.

We are already seeing progress in this important area. Scotland’s Climate Assembly included a parallel children’s process (see case study above) alongside their deliberations and the Scottish Government has developed enhanced youth engagement opportunities for ahead of, during, and following COP26.

We will continue to look for opportunities to ensure that our young people have a voice in our future and can influence policy design.

Case Study - 2050 Climate Group

There has been a significant increase in recent years of those aged 16 to 24 viewing climate change as an urgent problem (up from 38% in 2013 to 69% in 2019). Decisions made today will shape the climate for our young people. So it is not only right that we hear the voice of their generation, it is important that they are able to actively participate and hold governments to account.

One of Scotland’s pioneering organisations in this field is the 2050 Climate Group. This organisation began as a joint project between Young Scot and the 2020 Climate Group to develop young leaders, or ‘2050 Ambassadors’, in Scotland. This group of young leaders then became the 2050 Climate Group, which aims to engage, educate and empower young people in Scotland to lead transformational change towards a low carbon Scotland.

Since 2014, the Scottish Government has supported the 2050 Climate Group to deliver climate leadership training to over 500 young people (aged 18 to 30), providing them with the skills, knowledge, networks, and opportunities they need to lead action on climate change. Actively engaged to ensure that young people’s views on climate change are taken into account during policy development, they sit on the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission. The Group regularly provides information on consultation, raises awareness of climate change developments amongst Scotland’s young people, and has provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s committees, including most recently on the updated Climate Change Plan.

COP26 engagement and legacy (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), an international summit held in Glasgow, represents a critical moment in the global fight against climate change. Tackling the climate emergency and setting the world on course for net zero emissions within a generation will require a truly global response which has equity and fairness at its heart. To reflect the importance of both public engagement and ensuring people are at the heart of climate policy, we have identified “people” as one of our two key themes for COP26, alongside “just transition”.

It is crucial that COP26 delivers a positive legacy for the people of Scotland and the world. In line with this Public Engagement Strategy, we aim to use the opportunity presented by COP26 to: increase awareness of the domestic and international action we are taking to tackle climate change; inspire greater action to support our national endeavour towards net zero; and ensure that people are left with a positive impression of our country, people, culture, nature, and heritage, including our commitments to social justice, just transition and a wellbeing economy.

We are committed to delivering an inclusive summit that engages sectors and communities in Scotland and beyond. COP26 being held in Scotland provides opportunities to engage the Scottish public before, during and after the summit.

We will do this, for example, through initiatives like Climate Week with a focus on COP26; encouraging people and organisations to make climate action commitments for the two weeks of the summit and beyond; and working to create a COP26 legacy. We are also engaging with key messengers in the education, cultural and sporting sectors to use the profile of COP26 to promote the benefits of climate action with their audiences.

During the summit, we have partnered with the Glasgow Science Centre to deliver ‘Our World, Our Impact’ (see case study below). This is a mainly virtual programme focused on the following six themes: environmental science; energy; transport and travel; food; our green futures; and climate justice.

Case Study - Our World, Our Impact

Glasgow Science Centre has been working in partnership with the Scottish Government to engage the Scottish public on COP26 and the science of our changing climate through the programme ‘Our World, Our Impact’. The programme makes climate science relevant to everyday life, through interactive online events, Q&A sessions with climate researchers, activities and challenges, magazines and community radio slots, as well as digital schools’ resources.

Between October 2020 and March 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Phase 1 of the programme reached 2.5 million people across Scotland, including schools and community groups in areas of deprivation, through a range of engagement platforms:

  • Curious About: Our Planet – an online portal for engaging with the science of the climate crisis, hosting content from the Glasgow Science Centre and partners. The three day festival ran in February 2021 with 11,000 visits to live online events. 72% of attendees agreed that the festival encouraged them to think about what they could do to tackle climate change.
  • Learning Lab – a digital educational offer engaging teachers and pupils through curriculum-based lesson plans and Meet the Researcher sessions, even during school closures.
  • Spark and Spark of Science – family magazine and community radio slots reaches those without access to digital technologies.

Glasgow Science Centre will deliver Phase 2 of Our World, Our Impact in the lead up to, and following on from COP26, both on existing digital engagement platforms and through in-person delivery.

Our programme of engagement events in Glasgow throughout the duration of the summit will help ensure a positive legacy for youth engagement and participation, including, for example, support for the 2050 Climate Group and the Malawi Scotland Partnership to develop youth leadership in Scotland and Malawi. Another example is working with the UK Government to ensure opportunities for people across Scotland to engage with the summit’s ‘Green Zone’. COP Green Zones are a space where the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, and businesses can have their voices heard through events, exhibitions, workshops, and talks that promote dialogue, awareness, education and commitments. We will seek to build on this cross-sectoral engagement as part of the COP26 legacy.


Supporting Trusted Messengers (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

We recognise that governments are often not the most suitable messenger when it comes to communicating policies to different audiences. The best communicators of climate change are those who are trusted by their audiences. These messengers are typically embedded within place-based communities; community organisations or trusts; sports and leisure clubs; cultural organisations; industry sector representatives; member groups such as faith-based groups; and organisations representing protected characteristics.

Findings from the Scottish Household Survey show there is a disparity between different sectors of society with regards to climate change awareness and concern[31]. It is important that we raise public awareness within all groups, particularly those currently less engaged on the topic. We will continue to partner with, and support, a range of networks to promote climate change engagement and motivate individuals and communities to take action. This includes identifying new networks and messengers within communities that have historically been less engaged in climate change conversations and decisions.

We will support trusted messengers providing the latest key messages on what the climate emergency means for them; timely information on Scottish Government policies; guidance on how they can discuss climate change with their audiences; and details of positive actions that can be taken to tackle climate change, which will be rooted in science. We will also signpost them to other support available, including financial support, to hold conversations with their groups and take action.

Building Strong Stakeholder Partnerships (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

Many of the policies included within the updated Climate Change Plan will require a range of organisations to help deliver them. This could be local authorities, public sector organisations, businesses, the third sector, and community organisations. The policies cut across all sectors of the Scottish economy and will require strong sector and stakeholder collaboration in order to be delivered effectively.

Our public bodies, in particular, are at the frontline of Scotland’s climate emergency response, with many already going well beyond their legislative duties to drive action and influence change across society. We will continue to work closely with local government and the wider public sector to engage the public and communities through the vast range of public services they deliver. We will work with organisations across Scotland including through appropriate channels, such as, but not limited to, the Climate Change Communications Stakeholder Group, which consists of external partners interested in climate change, and the Climate Change Communications Working Group, which brings together communicators from key organisations to advise and feedback on government communications.

Our National Just Transition Planning Framework recognises the importance of developing just transition plans in collaboration with all key stakeholders – those liable to be most impacted by the transition.

Some areas of climate change policy, such as electricity regulation and energy markets, are reserved to the UK Government. UK Government communications on reserved policies therefore have an impact on the Scottish public. We are working collaboratively with them and will continue to do so in the interest of managing communications effectively. We will work with partners including UK Government, business, public and third sector organisations, and communities to seek a joined up and effective communications approach.

Connecting with Nature (Objective 3: Act)

Nature loss and climate change are inextricably linked. Nature-based solutions to mitigating climate change are integral to achieving net zero. They can also help provide a nature-rich future which is vital for ensuring we adapt to the impacts of climate change already locked in.

People’s connection with nature is also central to tackling biodiversity loss and the climate emergency. In recent years, particularly in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on everyday life, many people spent more time outdoors, enjoying the benefits from engaging with nature, for their physical and mental wellbeing. NatureScot’s Make Space for Nature Campaign[32] is building on the connections people have made with nature, and helping to initiate behaviour change.

Our natural environment demonstrates the impacts of climate change and offers an opportunity to demonstrate how nature can be part of the solution.

NatureScot’s Climate Change Commitments set out how Scotland will address the key climate change challenges through management of our land and sea, and how NatureScot will support communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change while mainstreaming its own climate change actions to improve resilience and reach net zero.

We will continue to work alongside NatureScot to encourage people and communities to engage with nature and ensure links are made to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Engaging through Culture and Heritage (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

Culture and heritage are integral to people’s ways of life. By connecting us to our environments and contributing to our senses of belonging, they offer real potential to help deliver the culture and societal change that will be required to support our transition to net zero and adapt to our changing climate.

Culture and heritage projects often present a unique opportunity to engage directly with communities across Scotland. Heritage can develop our understanding of how society and our environments have transformed themselves in the past, building our faith in what might be possible in the future.

The arts, including screen and broadcasting, are a significant communication tool, with the power to help the public to understand and visualise the potential impacts of climate change, challenge our beliefs and shift ways of seeing and thinking. The documentaries and broadcasts of Sir David Attenborough are only one example of this.

In line with the Culture Strategy for Scotland’s ambition for heritage and culture to help transform public thinking on tackling the climate emergency, national public bodies are stepping up their contribution to an environmentally aware and sustainable Scotland. For example, Historic Environment Scotland’s Climate Action Plan 2020-2025 sets out how it intends to work towards making our Scotland’s historical environmental (e.g. castles, monuments, landscapes) more prepared for and resilient to changes in our climate. It details the organisation’s commitment to engaging the public through the historic environment and mainstreaming adaptation and resilience throughout its operations.

We will work with the culture and heritage sectors to utilise the potential of the arts and heritage to deliver culture change and support pilot projects which raise awareness of climate change, its impacts and the need for action.

Case Study - Climate Beacons

The Climate Beacons project was instigated by Creative Carbon Scotland following research into effective methods of arts-lead public engagement. The project brings together funded partnerships between cultural and environmental organisations to develop deep-seated and long-term public engagement with climate change.

Each Climate Beacon organises locally relevant and creative public engagement activity in the lead up to, and following on from, COP26. They have the independence to run in a way that is most suited to their locality, while still being supported by a programme-level steering group.

The project launched in June 2021 with seven partnerships, or ‘Climate Beacons’, across Scotland, situated in Argyll, Caithness and East Sutherland, Fife, Inverclyde, Midlothian, the Outer Hebrides, and Tayside. The projects cover a range of topics, including Scotland’s temperate rainforests, climate colonialism, peatland restoration, industrial decarbonisation, the green recovery from COVID-19, and the adaptation of Scotland’s islands to climate change impacts.


Encouraging Community Climate Action (Objective 3: Act)

Communities will play – and already are playing – a fundamental role in Scotland’s response to the global climate emergency. Since 2008, the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) has made over 1,000 awards, valued at over £110 million, to communities across Scotland. This funding has enabled communities to take direct action on climate change and many projects have focused on engaging with communities on climate change and improving climate literacy.

The current form of the CCF will come to an end in March 2022. Building on a review of the CCF in Spring 2019, we will continue to support community-led climate action as a key part of our transition to net zero. We are working with those involved in community climate action to launch a network of regional Community Climate Action Hubs to ensure that community engagement is co-ordinated and that different approaches can be adopted in different areas depending on local circumstances and priorities. Our Climate Action Towns initiative will empower and support communities to take action on climate change in a way that takes account of the unique challenges and opportunities each town and region face.

We will continue to develop our approach to community climate action to ensure communities are at the forefront of our green recovery and just transition to net zero.

Supporting Climate Change Education (Objective 1: Understand; Objective 3: Act)

In schools, climate change is addressed through the curriculum in a number of different ways, including through the cross-cutting curriculum theme of Learning for Sustainability. Learning for Sustainability encourages young people and their educators to consider issues of global sustainability and in doing so it can provide the skills to tackle climate change. For example, young people can learn about greenhouse gases in the sciences, assess the impact on the natural landscape in geography, calculate carbon emissions in maths and monitor climate change over time in history. It is important that young people fully understand the wide-ranging extent of climate change and the impacts (both positive and negative) of their actions on the climate. Learning for Sustainability is Scotland’s contribution to a broader international approach, reflected in the 2021 Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development[33].

In acknowledgement of the importance of climate education we are committed to implementing our Learning for Sustainability action plan and we are working with the Teach the Future climate education campaign to look at how we can further strengthen and improve the plan. The plan aims to ensure that all young people can experience their entitlement to Learning for Sustainability and that schools and settings adopt robust and effective whole school and community approaches. It focuses action around:

  • curriculum and assessment delivery;
  • supporting the skills and confidence of educators;
  • securing leadership buy-in;
  • adapting the learning estate; and
  • developing a strategic approach to delivery.

Furthermore, our funding of initiatives such as the Eco-Schools Scotland Programme and Climate Ready Classrooms (see case study below) has helped to ensure that schools consider their environmental impact and that teachers have the skills and confidence to cover this vital area of education.

Education Scotland engages with schools to consider how and in what ways they could further improve their approach to climate education and Learning for Sustainability at school level. This includes initiatives like the Learning for Sustainability awards to showcase the work of schools, teachers, pupils, and community education providers across Scotland; practitioner and local authority networks; and climate related material delivered via the National e-Learning platform and available to schools across Scotland.

We will work collaboratively with a range of our Learning for Sustainability partner organisations to continue to support education leaders, practitioners and learners to access the right skills and knowledge to learn, and be able to teach, about climate change.

Case Study - Climate Ready Classrooms

The Scottish Government provided funding to roll out Climate Ready Classrooms across Scottish secondary schools. Targeted at 14-17 year olds, Climate Ready Classrooms helps those taking part to develop their understanding of climate change, its causes and impacts, and prepares the young people to join a national network of carbon literate ambassadors. It uses interactive activities and examples to start a conversation about climate change. Upon completing the course, pupils receive Carbon Literacy accreditation. Climate Ready Classrooms supports a whole school, pupil-led approach to Learning for Sustainability.

Research shows that a large number of educators feel they have not received adequate training to educate students on climate change, its implications for the environment and societies around the world, and how these implications can be addressed[34]. A key component of Climate Ready Classrooms is that it also offers Train the Trainer sessions for educators, accredited by the Carbon Literacy Project. This trains educators to deliver carbon literacy training to young people and is suitable for head teachers, teachers, CLD practitioners, and youth and children’s workers. The Train the Trainer course informs on climate change and what we can do as a society, as groups, and as individuals to take climate action.

Between December 2019 and March 2021, Climate Ready Classrooms accredited 1,630 pupils who took part in the programme. Over 250 teachers were accredited as a part of the Train the Trainer sessions, and it is projected that they will have trained a further 3,560 pupils in this time.

Promoting a Place-Based Approach (Objective 3: Act)

Given how connected people are to the places they live in there is a role for locally framed messages related to climate change that take into account the issues and challenges specific to Scotland’s diverse geographies. When people recognise that the global issue of climate change has local implications, they are likely to become more averse to the risks of climate change and more mobilised to act. We will support this by working with messengers to deliver relevant messages which embed the ‘think global, act local’ concept.

As well as the National Planning Framework 4, new regional spatial strategies and local development plans provide an opportunity to set out a long-term place-based vision for delivering development and infrastructure that responds to the challenges of climate change at all scales. Established tools such as the Place Standard and emerging local place plans will provide communities with the scope to set out how they see their places develop and improve in the future. The 20 minute neighbourhood concept[35] will help to frame discussions about change and development with climate change in mind and we are exploring this further.

We will continue to embed the Place Principle with partners. This principle underlines a commitment to work with local communities in order to improve the lives of people, support inclusive and sustainable economic growth and create more successful places. By engaging people and communities in the re-imagining of our places we can connect people to the many tangible benefits of taking ambitious action to tackle climate change and enable a just transition to net zero.



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