Action to tackle climate change is a high priority for the Scottish Government. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 set a target of reducing Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, compared with the 1990 baseline. The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan ( Third Report on Policies and Proposals, RPP3) sets out how Scotland will continue to reduce emissions over the period 2018–2032 in order to deliver those targets. A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to amend that Act is currently before Parliament. It increases the level of ambition in the climate change targets in response to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The Scottish Government recognises that public understanding, engagement and action will be critical to achieving the social and economic transformations required to achieve a low carbon society and to meet its climate change targets. Its Low Carbon Behaviours Framework sets out a strategic approach to encourage low carbon lifestyles amongst individuals, households, communities and businesses in Scotland.
For the last five years the SHS has included a question about perceptions of climate change as a problem, which was first asked in the Scottish Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours Survey in 2008.
In 2015, the SHS added four new questions to explore people’s attitudes relevant to taking action to tackle climate change, three of which were also asked in SEABS. People are invited to agree or disagree with the following four statements:
- Climate change will only have an impact on other countries, there is no need for me to worry
- It’s not worth me doing things to help the environment if others don’t do the same
- I don’t believe my behaviour and everyday lifestyle contribute to climate change
- I understand what actions people like myself should take to help tackle climate change
The SHS results are discussed in relation to the SEABS results where available, although it is worth noting that there were some differences between the surveys. In the SEABS survey, respondents were asked a more detailed set of questions about the environment compared with the SHS, in which climate change is one of a wide range of topics on which respondents answer questions.
Email: Emma McCallum