15.3 Annex C: Climate Conversations
15.3.1 Public understanding, engagement and action are critical to the social and economic transformations required to achieve a low carbon society. The move to a low carbon society will require lifestyle changes for individuals and households across Scotland, and engagement on climate change will be a key element of supporting this cultural shift.
15.3.2 As part of ongoing engagement with the public, the Scottish Government initiated a series of climate conversations across Scotland (starting in summer 2016) to encourage public discussions on climate change. The purpose of these conversations is to 'take the temperature' of public views on climate change and actions that might be needed to tackle it.
15.3.3 These group discussions enable participants to share their views on climate change, on potential policies to tackle climate change, and on potential changes to people's everyday lives. This includes participants discussing what life in a low carbon Scotland in 2030 might look like in the context of a changing climate, and in some conversations exploring views on the respective roles of individuals and government in reducing emissions.
15.3.4 The Scottish Government commissioned 20 formal climate conversations across Scotland in 2016 and findings from these are being fed into the development and communication of the draft Climate Change Plan. Ten conversations were held with local groups of national community-facing organisations. Another ten were held with members of the public, recruited by a market research company to be broadly representative of the local population.
15.3.5 178 participants took part in the 20 conversations, ranging in age from 18 to 90. The conversations were held in locations across Scotland, from Galashiels to Pitlochry to Dumfries.
15.3.6 Organisations involved in climate change activities have also been holding their own conversations. For example Eco-Congregations held six conversations in locations ranging from Orkney to Dumfries to the Borders. Findings from those conversations are incorporated in the key findings below.
Key findings so far
15.3.7 Climate Conversations work as a way to engage with the general public on climate change, and participants enjoyed the conversations.
Knowledge of climate change
- People are generally aware of climate change as both an issue and a problem and were aware that action is necessary to tackle it. There was some confusion between concepts and some factual inaccuracy in the conversations, however many of the participants appeared reasonably well informed.
- Participants want to act on climate change but want more information on climate change, the impacts of climate change and the actions they can take.
- Participants felt they were already taking some action on climate change.
- The most prevalent themes concern the impact of a changing climate in relation to transport disruption, wildlife and ecosystems, changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, food supply and land use, and changes to energy generation.
- Local energy and public transport were consistently popular themes in the conversations, with strong support for improvements to the public transport network, and participants favoured increased energy generation through renewables.
- Across the groups there were strong views that improving energy efficiency of homes and sourcing power from renewable energy would both reduce emissions and create significant added benefits to local people's health, wealth and wellbeing.
- People want to engage but need help to go from interest to action. The low carbon choice needs to be the easy choice and the fair choice.
- Some groups highlighted an appetite for an ambitious and holistic vision of the future.
- People want a transparent and consistent approach to climate change across government.
15.3.8 These conversations are continuing through local groups across Scotland, and we are feeding the results into policy development.
15.3.9 There is potential to improve general public awareness of existing sources of information and advice on climate change and low carbon behaviours. We are developing the climate conversations package to help support this.
15.3.10 Free resources, including a How to Guide, are available to help as many organisations and community groups as possible to participate in the climate conversations. These resources, based on research undertaken by Climate Outreach on behalf of the Scottish Government and ClimateXChange, can be used to facilitate conversations that move beyond existing approaches, engaging people in meaningful conversation about the wider impacts of climate change and the measures that might be needed to mitigate its causes and effects. These resources are available on the Scottish Government website  .
Email: Kirsty Lewin
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House