Big Climate Conversation: report of findings

A summary of findings from the Big Climate Conversation, a public engagement programme about climate change held over six months across Scotland.

Section 1: Introduction


In April 2019, Scotland's First Minister declared a global climate emergency. Since then, a new Climate Change Act has been adopted by the Scottish Parliament, setting a net-zero emissions target for all greenhouse gases by 2045, and new targets for 2030 and 2040.[1]

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been stark in saying that achieving the net-zero emissions target will require a fundamental change in approach, "from the current piecemeal approach that focuses on specific actions in some sectors to an explicitly economy-wide approach".[2] The CCC estimates that less than 40% of the required changes will be achieved through low carbon technologies or fuels alone. Most of the action needed to meet the net-zero target will require some behavioural or societal changes.

Scotland's response to the global climate emergency must, therefore, be a national endeavour, involving all sectors of society. It is more important than ever that everyone understands the nature and scale of the challenge and has the opportunity to have their say on how the country should respond.

Launched in June 2019, The Big Climate Conversation was a collaborative, nationwide dialogue to discuss Scotland's response to the global climate emergency. Through a number of different strands of activity, the Scottish Government has heard from individuals, communities, businesses and public sector organisations in Scotland about the difficult decisions and societal changes that are needed to tackle climate change.

This report focuses on the findings from the strands of The Big Climate Conversation that were aimed at engaging the public in conversations about climate change in the context of their everyday lives, including their homes, communities, workplaces, and schools. The Big Climate Conversation has also included other activities aimed at engaging businesses and public sector institutions, such as the 'Mission Zero Business Summit' and an online consultation on the role of public sector bodies in tackling climate change,[3] and the findings from these events will be reported separately.


The public engagement programme of The Big Climate Conversation was established with four key aims:

1. Allow people to share their views on climate change and how Scotland should respond to the global climate emergency;

2. Gauge public perceptions on behaviour and policy changes required to transition to a 'net-zero emissions' society;

3. Ascertain the steps and decisions the public are prepared to take in response to the global climate emergency;

4. Contribute to awareness-raising on climate change amongst those currently not engaged with the topic.

The views shared are being used to inform the Scottish Government's new 'Public Engagement Strategy' for climate change, to be published in 2020, which will act as the blueprint for the government's approach to engaging with the public on climate change. The views shared are also being used to inform an update to the current Climate Change Plan.



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