Climate Change Plan: third report on proposals and policies 2018-2032 (RPP3)

This plan sets out the path to a low carbon economy while helping to deliver sustainable economic growth and secure the wider benefits to a greener, fairer and healthier Scotland in 2032.

Our Approach

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform has overseen the development and production of this Climate Change Plan. Scottish Ministers have worked collaboratively to develop proposals and policies for emissions reductions across sectors in ways that maximise opportunities and minimise costs. However, the Scottish Government cannot, and should not, attempt to deliver this Climate Change Plan on its own. Local government, other public bodies, the private sector, the third sector, communities, households and individuals all have important roles to play.

The public sector

We expect Scotland's public bodies to lead by example in combatting climate change and make a valuable contribution towards achieving our emissions reduction targets. The public sector is critical to the successful delivery of the Climate Change Plan: influencing and enabling positive behaviours; driving change; and acting as an exemplar of climate action and low carbon innovation.

The leadership role of the Scottish Government is complemented by the concerted action of public bodies and, in particular, local government. Scottish local government is fully committed to dealing with the causes and effects of climate change. The Scottish Government works with public sector leadership networks, including the Scottish Leaders Forum, Chief Executives' Forum and the Scottish Government Delivery Bodies Group, to promote action on climate change. We will collaborate with the Environment and Economy Leaders' Group, which comprises Chief Executives of Scotland's environment public bodies, in considering how to widen engagement and action to help achieve our climate change ambitions.

In 2007, Scottish local authorities demonstrated clear leadership by voluntarily creating and signing the Scottish Climate Change Declaration [31] . This document set out local authorities' intent to work across all areas in order to drive the behaviour and technological changes necessary to reduce carbon emission levels to those required to meet national targets. Since then, emissions directly attributable to council actions and estates have fallen substantially, demonstrating both the commitment of Scottish local authorities and the power of public statements of intent.

As major players under the Climate Change (Scotland) 2009 Act, local authorities play a critical role in the delivery of the Public Bodies Climate Change Duties. The 2016‑2017 Analysis Report [32] , produced by the Sustainable Scotland Network on the public bodies climate change reporting duties, has highlighted the efforts of 180 public bodies across Scotland in reducing carbon emissions from the public sector in 2016‑2017. While it is too early to comment on trends, overall the direction of travel by public bodies on emissions reductions is positive and remains in step with national reduction targets.

Aerial view of Glasgow University, West End
Aerial view of Glasgow University, West End
Credit: Alan McAteer for Scottish Enterprise

It is important to note that it is not only with regards to directly attributable emissions that councils have played their part. The work of local authorities affects all sectors of Scottish society, and influences individuals and communities across the country.

Our climate change ambitions are shared with the entire Scottish public sector. Over the course of this Plan and beyond, the Scottish Government will work with the wider public sector in Scotland so that it continues to make a valuable contribution to Scotland's climate change targets, proposals and policies.

The planning system

Decisions we take about the places in which we live, work and play last for decades and sometimes hundreds of years. These decisions can, therefore, have an impact on people for their entire lives. The planning system must provide the framework in which decisions about "place" can support low carbon lifestyles and the transformative change needed to deliver emissions reduction targets.

Buildings, streets and spaces are the ingredients of place, and 'placemaking' is a useful way of thinking about how the planning system can help Scotland decarbonise. Placemaking is fundamentally about people, communities, neighbours and families. It can provide people with the opportunity, power and support to talk about their place and use this to inform future action.

A review of the planning system commenced in 2015, and the Planning (Scotland) Bill, which sets out the desired changes to planning law, was introduced to the Scottish Parliament in December 2017. The Bill proposes making the development plan less complicated, with national leadership under a combined National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy. The intention is for the Framework and Policy to be co‑produced with planning authorities to reflect regional priorities across the country, replacing the current strategic development plans covering only the four city regions and providing the policy basis for making decisions locally. This Climate Change Plan will be a fundamental information source for the preparation of the next National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy, which we expect to publish in 2020.

The Planning Bill includes a range of measures to empower communities, including a new right enabling communities to prepare their own plan for their place. This creates opportunities for communities to use the planning process to consider how to access funds for change, for example from the Climate Challenge Fund.

This Plan considers the behaviours of people and the choices they make. These are informed by the access people have or do not have to the things that would help them live lower carbon lifestyles. The planning system is a means by which the missing infrastructure which would assist low carbon choices to be made, can be identified and developed in the future. The planning system provides a means of thinking about this at a street, neighbourhood, village, town, city, region and national scale. It is about enabling conversations and plans for the types of places we share as a society, and designing infrastructure in a way that encourages decarbonisation.

For emissions reductions, probably the most important decision the planning system makes is where new development should be built. From that decision all the other related impacts flow: how people travel to and from the development; how it improves an area; the social and economic impacts which occur; and how all of this impacts on the emissions produced.

All buildings will need to become more energy efficient. Changes have already been made to the planning system which means that many efficiency measures, in particular for our homes, do not require planning permission in advance. These 'permitted development rights' were considered as part of the review of the planning system and support for more permitted development rights was identified.

Our streets are already changing to accommodate electric vehicle charging and active travel infrastructure. Continued engagement about how best to support sustainable forms of travel through new development will be an essential component of emissions reduction. Where we get our low emission energy from is also critical and we will continue to need to find room for large scale infrastructure such as wind and solar farms, as well as more locally based equipment, such as heat networks and energy centres.

Exterior view of Inovo at ITREZ (International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone), Glasgow
Exterior view of Inovo at ITREZ (International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone), Glasgow
Credit: Alan McAteer for Scottish Enterprise

At a broader scale the planning system provides a framework for thinking about how we use space to gain a variety of benefits: for example, green networks can be important for wildlife, recreation and travel; and woodland creation can help absorb carbon dioxide and slow down the rate of water movement into burns and rivers, helping to reduce flooding in built-up areas.

Given the wide range of impacts from planning, local political commitment to development plans is crucial to ensuring that decisions are consistent and the beneficial outcomes which result from delivery of the plans can be achieved. Using the placemaking approach and design-led principles can help to create places where sustainable and active lifestyles become the obvious and easy option.

The nature of the planning system means that it will be more influential for some sectors identified in this Plan than others. A lot is already being done, as highlighted above. The specific role of the planning system in delivering the aims of the sectors is highlighted in each of the individual chapters.

Activity session at Climate Challenge Fund Transport Networking event in 2017
Activity session at Climate Challenge Fund Transport Networking event in 2017

Credit: Keep Scotland Beautiful

The role of communities

Scotland has achieved much over the last few years in terms of galvanising community action and putting more decisions and resources in the hands of communities. We believe that the best people to decide the future of our communities are the people who live in those communities.

Where communities are empowered, we see a range of benefits: local democratic participation is boosted; confidence and skills among local people are increased; higher numbers of people volunteer in their communities; and satisfaction with quality of life in local neighbourhoods is improved. This leads ultimately to the delivery of improved, more responsive services and better outcomes for the communities themselves.

Our ambitions in the Plan are backed up by investment in local communities and their ability to lead change at a local level through the Climate Challenge Fund ( CCF), which is funded by the Scottish Government.

The CCF supports communities across Scotland to run locally-led projects that reduce emissions, improve their local communities and help adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. At the time of publication, the CCF had awarded £85.8 million to 986 communities since its launch in 2008 and 2018 will see the award of the 1000 th CCF project. Continued Scottish Government investment in the CCF helps ensure that communities are empowered, equipped and supported to deliver low carbon solutions to local issues on their own terms.

The CCF supports a wide range of community-led action by, for example, arts groups, sports clubs, community councils, faith groups, student unions, residents associations, local charities, food groups, housing associations and development trusts. The Fund supports a range of activity and has helped communities to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste, increase the energy efficiency of homes and community buildings, encourage active travel and the use of low carbon transport, and produce local food.

The CCF's core aims are climate change related but, as with so many other climate change policies and activities, the positive benefits have been found to be wide reaching. These include social and health benefits, the creation of employment and training opportunities, financial savings for individuals and reductions in fuel poverty through home energy efficiency measures.

Behaviour change and public engagement

Public understanding, engagement and action are critical to the social and economic transformations required to achieve a low carbon society. We are seeing an increase in people's understanding of the urgency of climate change, and about the contribution which they can make to help tackle it. The Scottish Household Survey shows that an increasing proportion of Scottish adults (just over half) state that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem; and a similar proportion acknowledge that their behaviour and everyday lifestyle contribute to climate change. Around three quarters state that they understand what actions people like themselves should take to help tackle climate change. Our aims are to encourage public discussion about climate change, and to engage and support people to take low carbon actions in their everyday lives.

Engaging with people on climate change

As part of our ongoing engagement with the public on climate change, the Scottish Government initiated a series of Climate Conversations across Scotland. The purpose of these conversations has been to encourage discussion about climate change among people who do not generally talk about it; and to assess public views about climate change and the actions that might be needed to tackle it. The conversations have included discussions about ten 'low carbon scenarios', showing what life in a low carbon Scotland in 2030 might look like in the context of a changing climate.

Conversations have been held with members of the public, local community and voluntary groups and local faith groups. Key findings from them include:

  • People do have some knowledge about climate change and its potential impacts, though levels of awareness and understanding vary.
  • People want reliable information about climate change, in order to help them to engage more with the issues and to motivate them to take action themselves.
  • People acknowledge that action is needed to tackle climate change, and that individuals need to play their part.
  • People want the Scottish Government to lead action to tackle climate change. They will be more motivated to adopt low carbon behaviours themselves if they can see that government and other sectors are playing their part.
  • Low carbon options need to be easy and fair choices for people.

These climate conversations are continuing through local groups across Scotland, and the findings will inform the development of government policy. We will also consider other forms of engagement to reach wider audiences. As part of the implementation of the Energy Strategy, communities will also be encouraged and supported to hold local conversations about local energy systems.

The role of individuals and households in reducing emissions

Individuals and households account for over three quarters of Scotland's consumption emissions (all the emissions for which we are responsible as consumers of goods and services, including those we import into Scotland), which break down into the following themes.

Consumption emissions associated with individuals and households by theme

  • Housing – 32%
  • Transport – 30%
  • Food – 16%
  • Consumption – 11%
  • Other – 10%

Individuals and households therefore have a significant role to play, alongside the public sector and businesses, in reducing Scotland's emissions.

The four consumption emissions themes have been broken down further into 10 Key Behaviour Areas, showing specific behaviours where changes by individuals and households can contribute to reducing Scotland's carbon footprint.

10 Key Behaviour Areas

1. Keeping the heat in (insulation, draught proofing, double glazing)

2. Better heating management (turning down heating thermostat to between 18 and 21 , reducing the hours the heating is on, and turning down hot water thermostat to a maximum of 60 )

3. Saving electricity (buying energy efficient appliances, lightbulbs, TVs and other products when they need to be replaced, washing clothes at low temperatures)

4. Installing a more energy-efficient heating system or generating your own heat by replacing inefficient boilers with condensing boilers and/or microgeneration ( e.g. solar water heating, biomass boiler, heat pump)

5. Becoming less reliant on the car (walking, cycling, using public transport and/or car-sharing instead of driving)

6. Driving more efficiently (using a low carbon vehicle (fuel efficient, hybrid, alternative fuel or electric), and/or following fuel-efficient driving principles)

7. Using alternatives to flying where practical ( e.g. train or teleconferencing for business)

8. Avoiding food waste

9. Eating a healthy, sustainable diet, high in seasonal food

10. Reducing and reusing in addition to the efforts we already make on recycling

Influencing behaviours: The ISM approach

People's choices and behaviours are influenced in various ways – within the values and attitudes that we hold, the habits we have learned, the people around us, and the tools and infrastructure available to us in our day-to-day lives. A package of interventions, designed to influence the way we all behave, that takes account of the wider aspects of our daily lives, is likely to be more successful.

The ISM approach was developed to help understand all of the contexts that shape people's behaviours – the individual, the social and the material. By understanding the different contexts and the multiple factors within them that influence the way we act every day, more effective policies and interventions can be developed.

The individual context includes an individual's values, attitudes and skills, the social context includes factors that influence us through networks, relationships and social norms, and the material context covers factors like infrastructure, technologies and regulations.

Experience of using the ISM approach, across a range of policy areas including housing, energy, transport and forestry, has highlighted key benefits including:

  • providing greater understanding of the wide range of factors that will impact on successful delivery of policies
  • giving clarity on the areas to be targeted and prioritised
  • highlighting the relative importance of different factors in effecting change and using these as levers to change, in particular, the importance of considering the social context in delivering and developing policies

The ISM approach has been used across policy areas to support the implementation of proposals and policies in the Plan, and delivery of policy outcomes. Workshops covered topics including: creating a demand for energy efficiency in housing; encouraging loan uptake; engaging householders with their heating controls; factors influencing tree planting and woodland creation; the school run; and low carbon heating.

We also built on the initial ISM workshops. For example, following the ISM workshop on factors influencing tree planting and woodland creation we undertook an ISM framed literature review to deepen understanding. In another example, following an initial workshop that brought together a range of key stakeholders on heating controls, we developed an ISM style workshop to engage the public on the same behaviour. This workshop was successful in engaging the public on policies and policy development and supplemented the initial workshop findings with a public point of view.

The findings which emerged from the two heating control workshops are now helping to inform the advice provided by Home Energy Scotland. These findings will also be factored into the design and update of our advice services as SEEP is developed further. In particular, the public facing ISM workshop on heating controls has helped us frame information for the public audience.

Engaging with people on low carbon behaviours

People across Scotland need to understand fully the changes we need to make, and how to incorporate these changes into everyday lives, to ensure everyone is both willing and able to take the actions required for low carbon living. This will be challenging, but low carbon initiatives being taken forward aim to make the transition as seamless and straightforward as possible, as well as providing a host of other benefits which are referenced throughout this Plan.

Alongside this we need to engage with the public on the impacts of climate change, bringing them along as active participants in the transition.

Through the Greener Together campaign [33] , which engages and motivates the public on a range of actions that can be taken to tackle climate change, we found that three quarters of those surveyed acknowledged that their behaviour could help tackle climate change and over 50% of the general public reported having a conversation on climate change in the past month.

The Scottish Household Survey shows a significant increase in the proportion of young people (age 16-24) who see climate change as an immediate and urgent problem: up from 38% in 2013 to 53% in 2016. A recent survey by Young Scot found that nearly half (42%) of young people consider that they themselves have some responsibility to tackle climate change, but only a third are aware of the practical actions they could take.

We will continue our support for the Eco Schools programme, which encourages pupil-led action for the environment, alongside our work with key stakeholders to promote young people's engagement on climate change. We recognise the achievements of our young people, such as the 2050 Climate Group, who are preparing young leaders through their development programme to take forward the low carbon transition while also representing Scotland on the global stage. As part of the Year of Young People 2018, we are working with our partners to further increase young people's engagement in Scotland's climate change agenda.

Overall, attitudes are changing and people are engaging with climate change issues. To increase the pace of change we need to clearly set out the changes that lie ahead and why they are important, along with associated infrastructure and services, as part of the support we are offering to communities and households across Scotland. Following the publication of the Plan, we will review the Low Carbon Behaviours Framework, setting out what the Scottish Government will do to drive and support the transition to a low carbon Scotland.


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