At the end of the facilitated workshops, participants were asked to rate their experience of the workshop on a scale of 1 – 10 from excellent to poor. They were also given an open field and invited to provide give any other feedback or comments that they wished.
Overall rating of events
Participants’ scores out of ten for their overall experience of the events are shown in Figures 4 and 5 below. The graphs show that, of those who submitted a feedback score, most participants in both open- and targeted-audience workshops rated their overall experience of the event as positive. On average, participants in targeted-audience workshops gave slightly higher scores than open-audience workshop participants: the mean score for target-audience workshops was 8.7 out of 10, compared to 7.4 in open-audience workshops.
As both distributions are negatively skewed, Table 2 provides three estimates of central tendency: mode, median and arithmetic mean. This table shows that the most marked difference between the two sets of scores is in the mode (the most common score), which was 8 out of 10 for open-audience workshops and 10 out of 10 for targeted-audience workshops.
|Estimate of central tendency||Open||Targeted|
Table 2: Average participant scores out of ten for their overall experience of the facilitated workshops
In line with the positive scores received, a large proportion of the qualitative comments provided by participants at both types of workshop were also positive.
Many participants stated that they found the workshops interesting, engaging or thought-provoking, as well as encouraging and motivating. Several participants also noted that they had enjoyed the opportunity to talk about climate change, and encouraged the Scottish Government to run more events like these in the future.
“Good to have folk coming together to talk. Makes you feel like you're not alone with worries, hopes, motivations.”
“It really got people talking. There was a great mix of people, ages etc. And it was very enjoyable as well as thought provoking.”
“Enjoyed this evening and it's good to stop and think about how our country's responsibility to change needs to be and how we go about it.”
“Really encouraging to see that the Scottish Government is taking the issue seriously.”
“It was good to meet other people who are thinking about climate change and how it might affect us in Scotland. We can’t ignore this. I feel more wary about my lifestyle choices now.”
“A great evening with a chance to build my knowledge and discuss issues with an interesting group of people.
“I think there should be more regular meetings like these to allow more members of the public to attend.”
Several participants also voiced concerns, criticisms and disappointments, particularly in some of the open-audience workshops. The most commonly expressed negative comment was a feeling that the Scottish Government needed to go beyond conversations and take more concrete action to tackle the global climate emergency.
“Glad I went. I feel far more informed. However I am very wary that this was all talk and there will be no action.”
“Act as an EMERGENCY don't just talk.”
“I want to see actions not words. Declaring a climate emergency doesn't make it go away!”
“People want actions now, we only have 12 years. Is very fine to declare an emergency, but government need to act as if there was one, and at the moment they are not doing so.”
Fort William open-audience
Some participants had interpreted the concept of The Big Climate Conversation to be a direct conversation between workshop participants and Scottish Government officials or ministers. As a result, they were frustrated that they did not have sufficient opportunity to speak directly with the Scottish Government on the night.
“Overall I welcomed the experience and the only criticism I have was that the government was poorly represented and didn't engage with us.”
Fort William open-audience
Several participants in the open-audience workshops also observed that many of the participants at the events were already highly engaged and motivated to act on climate change. Therefore, there was criticism of the events as “preaching to the converted” or speaking in “an echo chamber”, with the suggestion that more attention should be put on finding ways to reach people who were less convinced of the need to act.
“A little bit of a bubble, but a good platform for discussion.”
“You were preaching to the converted here, we need to have a truly national conversation about this.”
“Good but we were a self selected group. How to reach the unconverted?”
Linked to the observation that the open-audience participants were typically well informed about climate change issues, some participants found the discussion topics and activities too simplistic and suggested that these should have gone into more detail and complexity.
“As you are more than likely speaking to a converted audience it was a shame the conversations could not have been more detailed.”
“I am sure you were restricted for time , but it felt that we needed much more time to explore and discuss the issues in greater depth.”
Some participants stated that they found the design of the workshops, including the discussion topics and activities, to be too restrictive. These participants felt that the focus on specific government targets and actions meant that there was insufficient opportunity to discuss the fundamental framing of the issue, including potential ways to address more deep-seated, systemic causes of climate change embedded in our society and economy.
“Absence of scope to discuss the overall context, or to comment to the whole group about the framing of the problem.”
“Frustrated - this isn't a debate or discussion, you aren't finding out opinions (or ideas) just fitting us into "agree" or "disagree" boxes. In other words you've already decided solutions and plans.”
“…[This seems like] a one way conversation where the government gathers opinions but those conversing with the government feel either powerless or sceptical about the process.”
Fort William open-audience
Finally, several participants suggested that a citizen’s assembly on climate change would be a better way to more fairly and accurately capture the views of the public and give participants a greater sense of ownership over the process.
“Citizens assembly would give people more time, help the distillation process and increase ownership. This is a step towards it, consider being bolder.”
Feedback from community-led conversations
Community groups weren’t specifically asked for feedback on the process, however, Impact Funding Partners collated some comments on the perceived value and purpose of the conversations from the application forms of those who applied for grant funding.
Several organisations highlighted that they saw the opportunity to run an event in their local communities as a good way to bring more local voices to the conversation. Through offering the ‘How-To Guide’ and fund, The Big Climate Conversation has been able to reach out to communities in more rural and hard to reach areas of Scotland. Due to the location of the facilitated Big Climate Conversation events, many communities were unable to attend due to transport, time and financial constraints. By targeting local, grass root organisations, the conversations were able to be held in suitable and accessible venues.
“We found it very useful to be able to add to the Big Climate Discussion and we are putting on the event to allow people from the other side of the region an opportunity to feed into the discussion.”
Community-led conversation, Dumfries & Galloway
“As rural, remote and isolated communities they can often be overlooked during consultation processes....it is important we provide the opportunity for them to have their say.”
Community-led conversation, Shetland Isles
Many organisations went beyond what was outlined in the ‘How to Guide’, for example, inviting guest speakers along to their workshops or playing related videos to the groups to enhance their understanding.
“We have invited Professor Peter Smith, a world expert on Climate Change and Director of the Scotland's Climate Change Centre for Expertise at the University of Aberdeen to give a talk to kick off the event.”
Community-led conversation, Aberdeenshire
Several organisations also took this opportunity to discuss and develop their own community climate action plan.
“The Conversation itself should generate discussion not only on broader issues and behaviours but also on local lived experience, leading also to discussion on what practical measures could be taken locally in terms of climate mitigation and adaptation, at different level, right down to individual behaviour”.
Community-led conversation, Fife