Children's Parliament and Scotland's Climate Assembly logo

"It's up to you, me and all of us."

Children's Parliament and
Scotland's Climate Assembly

October 2020 - March 2021

Thanks

We’d like to say an extra special thank you to the wonderful Investigators for leading Children’s Parliament’s investigation for Scotland’s Climate Assembly:

Ayesha, Ben, Cian, Dan, Keira, Lana, Margaret, Maya, Mollie, Nadia, Seumas and Tyler

You have each brought such kindness, energy, enthusiasm, creativity, curiosity and empathy to this project. It has been such a joy to learn with and from you during this challenging time. We can’t wait for the day when we can meet (and dance with) you in person!

We'd also like to say a huge thank you to the wider group of 115 members of children's parliament (MCP) for sharing your wonderful views, ideas and artwork. YOU’RE AMAZING!

We’d also like to thank all the parents, carers and staff at the participating schools for your support and partnership. Finally, we would like to thank Emily, Chris and Liga at 8 Million Stories, the Climate Assembly Secretariat, and the experts who helped us with our investigation:

Katie Reid, Project Lead
Sandra Rabbow, Project Worker
Mahaut Fournier, Project Worker

Big thank you also to our experts:

Professor Iain Stewart - University of Plymouth
Dr Kate Crowley - University of Edinburgh
Professor Dave Reay - University of Edinburgh
Ellie Murtagh - Sniffer
Laura Young - Less Waste Laura
Matt McDonald - Transform Scotland
Mike Daniels and Rosie Simpson - John Muir Trust
Ruby Flatley - Youth Climate Activist
Hannah Richardson - Child Human Rights Defender

Welcome from the Investigators

In October 2020, we became embers of Children’s Parliament for the Climate Assembly happening in Scotland. This report tells you about how we have been involved in Scotland’s Climate Assembly, and what children across Scotland think needs to happen in Scotland to tackle the climate emergency. Here’s our message to you:

Children have good ideas, just like adults. Sometimes, children even have better ideas than adults. Climate change is happening now, so it is right that children have a say on what happens to stop it. We need to help to make the decisions as it’s our world too.

Please read this report and really do something about what we have said. We need you to think about our Calls to Action on the solutions to climate change and tell us if, when, where and how they can be done. We need you to help us reach the people who can make these changes happen in Scotland.

We Want You to Think:
What will the world be like in 2050 if nobody does anything about climate change?

This is our future, and it’s up to you, me – all of us – to take action, now.

The Investigator Team:
Ayesha, Ben, Cian, Dan, Keira, Lana, Margaret, Maya, Mollie, Nadia, Seumus and Tyler.

I feel really excited and proud to be involved in the Climate Assembly because I get to share my and others' opinions to help make a difference in Scotland.

MCP, Age 11, Fife

Children's Parliament and Scotland's Climate Assembly

The climate emergency is a human rights issue. Any plan, solution or action to tackle climate emergency in Scotland must respond to the needs, and rights, of everyone living here, and this means listening to the diversity of views and lived experiences of Scotland’s citizens. This includes children who have the right to have their views heard and taken seriously as outlined in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

In 1996, Children’s Parliament was created in response to an idea from children in Edinburgh participating in an international ‘Eco-City’ project. They felt there needed to be a space where children could share their views and ideas, and be taken seriously by adults in decisions being made in Scotland. Across all our work since then, climate change has continued to be a key concern for children. 25 years on, a climate emergency has since been declared in Scotland.

Grounded in Scotland’s Climate Change Act (2019), Scotland’s Climate Assembly brought over 100 people together from all walks of life to learn about, deliberate and make recommendations to answer:

“How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?”

As Scotland’s Climate Assembly Members were aged 16+, the secretariat invited Children’s Parliament to support the participation and engagement of younger children across Scotland, to ensure their views, experiences and ideas informed the discussions and recommendations going forward. Children’s participation in Scotland’s Climate Assembly has been a unique and significant realisation of children’s right to participate in decision-making processes, at a historic moment in time as children’s human rights outlined in the UNCRC become part of Scots Law.

While children, like adults, do not necessarily share the same views, opinions and ideas, children unanimously recognise the urgency needed to develop and implement solutions for the planet, their own immediate and future lives, and the lives of the generations to come. Most of all, children want to be part of the solutions and changes needed, and want to work with adults to tackle the climate emergency together.

Our Investigation

To capture the diversity of children’s views and experiences, and to echo the process of the Climate Assembly, Children’s Parliament with just over 100 children aged 7 -14 across Scotland from 10 local authorities, representing urban and rural communities, a mix of income and ethnicity groups, and with a gender balance.

Many children had not previously engaged in climate activism, until their involvement in the Climate Assembly. They have therefore been on a significant learning journey over the past six months to understand climate change, its impact, and what Scotland needs to do to further mitigate and adapt in a fair, just way.

Like Scotland’s Climate Assembly itself, our investigation with the children was facilitated digitally and remotely due to COVID-19. We took a hope-based, solution-focused approach underpinned by a commitment to upholding and further realising children’s human rights, with the support of climate anxiety experts, to ensure children felt valued, supported and empowered in this process.

Note: All children who participate in our projects and consultations become Members of Children’s Parliament. Unlike other parliamentary bodies, Children’s Parliament is not an elected body. Rather it is a participatory one, engaging with children up to 14 years of age across Scotland. We most often work to support children who: have had few or no meaningful experiences of participation or representation; are from marginalised communities; lack confidence or peer relationships; and/or experience challenging life circumstances. The quotes and artwork in this report are directly from the children involved.

It's really important that younger children can take part in something like Children's Parliament because they [decision makers] see things from a child's perspective. It shouldn't just be young people or adults who have a voice. Children should be included too!

MCP, Aged 11, Highlands
Photo of a digital survey on a laptop

Interactive, Digital Surveys

113 Members of Children's Parliament (MCPs) from 10 schools from across Scotland completed interactive, digital surveys in October 2020, January 2021 and February 2021.

Each survey was accompanied by a creative, participatory workshop designed by Children’s Parliament and delivered by supporting school staff or accessed remotely from home. Children’s Parliament worked in partnership with the Secretariat, climate evidence leads and experts from out with the Climate Assembly process to ensure the children received age-appropriate information and evidence aligning with the themes explored by the Assembly members.

The surveys included a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions, and the option to submit artwork too.

  • Survey 1 findings can be viewed here
  • Survey 2 findings can be viewed here
  • Survey 3 findings can be viewed here

 

The Investigators

Children's Parliament worked with 12 children from 4 of the participating schools - The Investigators

Their role was to further explore the concepts, themes and ideas being deliberated by Assembly members, and to analyse and reflect on the views, ideas and opinions of the wider group of Members of Children’s Parliament, gathered in three digital surveys.

Investigator Missions:

Each month, the Investigators were sent fun, creative activities in the post to prepare in advance of the calls. You can see what was included in the investigators’ monthly ‘mission’ packs here

Online Calls:

The 12 Investigators initially met twice a month on an online video call facilitated by the Children’s Parliament team. In January 2021, this became a weekly session, providing us all with lots of laughs and fun during the lockdown period. In October and November, the Investigators learned about climate change, its relationship with human rights and fairness, and explored the impact ofclimate change globally, and in their own communities in Scotland.

In December and January, the children met with climate experts to learn about the evidence being presented to the Assembly Members for the following themes: Diet, Lifestyle, Travel, Land and Sea Use, Work and Learning.

Brochan:

An additional, much-loved, member of the team – the Investigators’ mascot Brochan the Hedgehog. Brochan is, to date, the only one to have met the children in person thanks to the postal service. Here are some photos from Brochan’s adventures with the Investigators.

Films:

To communicate the children’s journey, findings and key messages to the Assembly Members, the Children’s Parliament team worked with the Investigators to create a series of short films shown at the Climate Assembly weekends. The children were supported remotely by the team at 8 Million Stories to record their own film clips at home or school.

  • Film 1: The first film, capturing the children’s initial reflections on participating in the Climate Assembly and understanding of climate change more broadly, was shown on the weekend of the 7th and 8th November 2020 and can be watched here.
  • Film 2 The second film, capturing the children’s views and experiences of the impact of climate change in Scotland, was shown on the weekend of the 12th and 13th December 2020 and can be watched here.
  • Film 3 The third film, capturing the children’s views on the Climate Assembly thematic areas, was shown during the weekend of the 20th and 21st February 2021 and can be watched here.
  • Film 4 The children’s final film, which outlined the children’s final recommendations or ‘calls to action’ to be considered by the Climate Assembly members was shown during the weekend of the 6th and 7th March 2021 and can be watched here.

 

Meet the Investigators

We’re the 12 Investigators. In this project, we learned a lot and came up with lots of great ideas. We also became really good friends and laughed (and danced), a lot.

Photo of Climate Investigator Ben

Ben, age 10, Highlands

"I think kids should have some say on the future of climate change because we have good ideas which could be the kickstart that we need to defeat climate change."

Photo of Climate Investigator Maya

Maya, age 10, Highlands

"For me, it's important that children are involved in the Climate Assembly as we have the right to be heard! I've really enjoyed our zoom meetings and I like how everyone gets a turn to say their ideas and thoughts."

Photo of Climate Investigator Mollie

Mollie, age 10, Highlands

"Children's Parliament is a good way for children's voices to be heard. I really enjoyed talking with other children and adults and finding out about the different approaches to tackling climate change."

Photo of Climate Investigator Lana

Lana, age 11, Western Isles

"My favourite part about being an investigator has been meeting new people and talking about climate change passionately. Kids have a creative side so you may get some new ideas!"

Photo of Climate Investigator Tyler

Tyler, age 12, West Lothian

"I think it is important that children also have their voices heard in the Climate Assembly because it impacts our lives a lot more than adults. My favourite thing about being an investigator was meeting with the different experts."

Photo of Climate Investigator Cian

Cian, age 10, Clackmannanshire

"It's been exciting to share my views" Climate change will have an impact on my future so it's important I have a voice."

Photo of Climate Investigator Ayesha

Ayesha, age 11, West Lothian

"It's been great being an investigator and I enjoyed meeting new people. I feel climate change will impact our future more than ever, so we have to act now."

Photo of Climate Investigator Keira

Keira, age 10, Clackmannanshire

"I think it's good that we're part of the Climate Assembly as climate change impacts kids as well. Kids have the right to be heard too!"

Photo of Climate Investigator Dan

Dan, age 10, Clackmannanshire

"It's good that we can share our views for the Climate Assembly and make sure we can be part of fixing the climate change problem in Scotland. Being an investigator has been very fun because we learned about how people live their lives."

Photo of Climate Investigator Seumas

Seumas, age 10, Western Isles

"Being in the Climate Assembly investigation has helped children have a voice in how we should tackle climate change. I loved being on the zoom meetings with the 11 other investigators and finding out about new things."

Photo of Climate Investigator Nadia

Nadia, age 12, West Lothian

"I think that it's important that children are involved because it is going to affect our future. We want to grow up in a Scotland that's safe to live in."

Photo of Climate Investigator Margaret

Margaret, age 11, Western Isles

"It's been awesome being an investigator. I came up with some ideas that will hopefully now be considered by the Scottish Government."


Part 1 - Understanding the Climate Emergency

Part 1

Understanding the Climate Emergency

Our investigation began with an exploration of the children’s existing understanding and perceptions of climate change, and feelings towards the global climate emergency. The children were invited to share examples of individual and collective actions happening in Scotland already.

Although many children described their involvement in Scotland’s Climate Assembly as being their first meaningful opportunity to learn about and engage in discussion about climate change, the majority demonstrated having a basic understanding of what climate change is, and what impact it is having on the natural environment and biodiversity, species, and people’s lives.

To the prompt 'I understand what climate change is', 76% responded with 'agree/strongly agree', 14% with 'neither agree or disagree', and 8% with 'disagree/strongly disagree'.

To me, climate change means that the planet is getting dangerously warm and it's affecting the people and the animals who live on earth.

MCP, Age 12, Edinburgh

Icebergs are falling and melting, and penguins are dying and polar bears are dying.

MCP, Age 7, South Ayrshire

It is killing animals' homes. I believe that it is inevitable.

MCP, Age 11, Perth & Kinross

Describe how you feel about climate change in three words

When asked how they feel about climate change, children shared the following:

Terrible, Bad, Frightened // Fast, Annoying, Nervous // Animals, Thinking, Change // Unhappy, Important, Unsure // Worried, Concerned, Hopeful // Sad, Disappointed, Angry // Strange, Desperate, Confused // Bad for kids // I feel upset // Help the planet

Some of the children's three word responses

Whilst many responses emphasise the concern, worry and frustration children feel about the climate emergency, it is important to highlight that children also described feeling hopeful and determined to be part of the solutions. Children recognise that there are existing efforts to tackle the climate emergency in Scotland, giving examples of positive actions happening at the individual, community and national level. However, many children feel Scotland is not doing enough to tackle climate change.

Climate change to me is something that's blocking me from my right to have a healthy life.

MCP, Age 13, Edinburgh

I'm really disappointed in humanity for mistreating the world and making it to come to this point.

MCP, age 13, Edinburgh

It's a problem that can be solved that will change Scotland and the whole world.

MCP, Age 10, Highlands

Try to produce less waste, stop cutting down trees and make it cheaper to own an electric car.

MCP, age 13, Edinburgh

To the prompt 'I understand what climate change is', 76% responded with 'agree/strongly agree', 14% with 'neither agree or disagree', and 8% with 'disagree/strongly disagree'.

To the prompt 'I know what Scotland can do to help tackle climate change', 45% responded with 'agree/strongly agree', 36% with 'neither agree or disagree', and 17% with 'disagree/strongly disagree'.

To the prompt 'I know what I can do to help tackle climate change', 62% responded with 'agree/strongly agree', 27% with 'neither agree or disagree', and 11% with 'disagree/strongly disagree'.

We can try and stop plastic getting into the sea. We can help regrow trees and lots more plants.

MCP, Age 9, Highlands

Buy locally-sourced produce, recycle and speak about how we feel about climate change.

MCP, Age 11, Perth & Kinross

Impact of Climate Change

The last 100 years has seen rapid climate change. Over the last few decades, both temperatures and the amount of rain we have in Scotland have increased. In the future, scientists expect hotter, drier summers, and warmer, wetter winters. Although Scotland is experiencing the effects of climate change, the worst impacts are, and will continue to be, felt in the world’s poorest communities.

Children recognise that the impact of climate change is, and will continue to be, most felt by children and adults in other parts of the world. The children reflected on how climate change and extreme weather have started to impact aspects of our natural environment, biodiversity and society in Scotland – and what could occur in the future. Children described increasing occurrences of flooding and severe storms in their local areas. Some children described how this has led to damage to homes, schools, local infrastructure such as bridges and causeways, and farmland in their local areas. With regard to children living in island communities, the impact is most felt – particularly with regard to coastal erosion and flooding.

It's not really noticeable on a day-to-day basis.

MCP, Age 12, Edinburgh

Causeways closed due to storms.

MCP, Age 10, Western Isles

There is more rainfall so farmers sometimes have trouble growing crops.

MCP, Age 8, South Ayrshire

People at our school had to go early and come later because of the bridge had collapsed because of the flooding.

MCP, Age 10, Perth & Kinross

Investigator Mission: Our Community Map

By Lana, Seumas and Margaret, Investigators

This is our community map. We live in a very special community on the Isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. Benbecula is a very unique island as it is made up of crofting lands, lots of beaches and a central, more built-up area where we have streets, a housing development, a hospital, a bank and shops. Most people need cars because the houses are so far apart but some have electric cars to reduce their carbon footprint.

We know that global warming causes climate change in our community in various ways. Lots of our beaches are affected by climate change – we have a lot of erosion. The weather can be very wet and windy and rising sea levels cause coastal erosion. This means that sea eats away the land and that there are lots of flooding. Erosion and flooding are really bad for crofters as they have nowhere to put their animals and crops get ruined. Our waters are also attracting more sea life which like warmer waters.

In our investigation, Seumas interviewed a local crofter who said that erosion and flooding make crofting very difficult. He uses natural fertiliser – seaweed - and he tries to rotate his crops to protect the soil. We also learned that sea defences are in place to protect the coastline. Marram grass, a special strong grass is put in place to protect the sand dunes. Fisherman fish sustainably and don’t overfish, crofters use natural products which are better for the environment and there are lots of wind turbines in our community for renewable energy.

We want Scotland in the future to be suitable for all generations ahead of us. We might want to live here when we’re older and if islands are submerged, it won’t really work out. So, we need to take action now – it’s up to you, me – all of us!

 

Part 2 - A Fairer Future

Part 2

A Fairer Future

When thinking about the solutions and changes needed to address the climate emergency, we need to make sure they respect both the planet and everyone’s human rights. This means solutions have to be fair.
 

What is fairness?

Many children described fairness as being about sharing and helping others. They recognised that being fair is about everyone having equal opportunities, and getting the support they need to live happy, healthy and safe lives. Children highlighted that this does not necessarily mean everyone getting the same support as children and adults all have different needs. Because of this, being fair sometimes means there must be compromises. But, when people work together and everyone gets the support they need, everyone benefits.

Fairness means everyone getting what they need to be supported and grow.

MCP, Age 10, Western Isles

Fairness means everyone benefits.

MCP, Age 10, Fife

Fairness means everyone gets the same opportunity.

MCP, Age 9, Perth & Kinross

Fairness is about being considerate, kind and thoughtful.

MCP, Age 8, Aberdeenshire

Globally, the poorest communities are the most impacted by climate change and yet, the lowest producers of carbon emission. Children considered this through the lens of ‘fairness’, recognising that individuals, communities and decision makers in Scotland must take responsibility for, and change, their actions, even if the consequences of our emissions are not felt as adversely in Scotland itself.

Governments around the world are trying to make money, but these methods may involve changing the environment and destroying the livelihoods of people of poorer nations. These poorer people may have no say in these changes.

MCP, Age 13, Orkney

You have to think about other people as well as yourself, so shouldn't do things that make climate change worse.

MCP, Age 8, Aberdeenshire

A Human Rights Emergency

Climate Change impacts our human rights as the effects caused to our climate will eventually affect all of us in different ways. We have to work together in order to change the outcome.

MCP, Age 9, South Ayrshire

Human rights belong to everyone in the world – every adult and every child. Having a right is an entitlement - something that should not be taken away from you. Human rights exist to make sure everyone can live happy, healthy and safe lives, and be treated with kindness, empathy, trust and dignity.

Throughout the investigation, the children were supported to understand and discuss how and why the climate emergency is a human rights and social justice issue. The children focused on children’s human rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), identifying specific articles of concern in Scotland and globally.

Note: Children’s Parliament has developed a child-friendly version of the UNCRC, titled the Wee Book of Promises, available here.

 

Right to Life, Survival and Development (Article 6)

Children highlighted how climate change could significantly compromise children and adults’ rights to life, survival and development, if tackling the climate emergency is not urgently addressed.

It can have an impact on our way of life, on food, water, health and housing, as well as our rights to do what we want in our world.

MCP, Age 11, Fife

It threatens our world as it affects our food and water, the air we breathe and our health.

MCP, Age 7, Aberdeenshire

Right to a Decent Standard of Living (Article 27)

Children described how the effects of climate change impact the right to housing, water, sanitation and food. Children gave examples of rising sea levels affecting homes and livelihoods in coastal and island communities in Scotland as well as other parts of the world.

Children also emphasised how unpredictable, severe weather, flooding and droughts affect our ability to access clean water and/or use land for growing food – creating food shortages and simultaneously compromising livelihoods, jobs, and trading opportunities.

Children highlighted that although this is a particularly significant challenge in other parts of the world, many communities in Scotland are experiencing the impact of climate change too.

In some countries, different weather conditions are making it hard to grow food which affects their right to eat enough. In other countries, they are chopping down trees which effects the earth's ability to clean the air that we breathe.

MCP, Age 11, Fife

Climate Change makes our world hotter and makes the sea level rise which destroys homes.

MCP, Age 13, Edinburgh

Right to Health and Safety (Article 19, 24 and 31)

Children described how climate change can create unsafe environments for people to live in – giving examples of extreme, changing weather damaging homes and communities, and high levels of air pollution creating unsafe conditions and compromising our health and wellbeing. Some children also described the impact this has on children’s right to play.

It impacts our right on staying safe and having a home. Climate Change takes away these things.

Investigator, Age 12, West Lothian

Young children will be affected by the pollution in the air and then they could get lung damage.

MCP, Age 11, West Lothian

Right to Education (Article 28 and 29)

Reflecting on the interdependency of human rights, children highlighted climate change’s relationship to the right to an education – both in terms of accessing education, and the quality of education children receive about the climate emergency – this included what climate change is, what impact it is having, how this is an issue of social justice, and what needs to be done here in Scotland, and globally.

Many children highlighted that they had received little or no education about climate change at school themselves, and that their participation in Children’s Parliament’s work with Scotland’s Climate Assembly was their first opportunity they had to learn about and consider climate change evidence, impact and solutions for Scotland.

I don't remember learning anything about Climate Change at school, so I don't know how it affects human rights.

MCP, Age 11, Fife

Before I became an investigator, I only knew a few things about Climate Change. Most of it was how it affects us locally here on the island, but I did not know much about the mainland or global impact.

Investigator, Age 9, Western Isles

When I interviewed my teacher for this project, he told me that in our school everything goes in one bin. We don't even learn how to recycle at school.

Investigator, Age 12, West Lothian

Rights to Participate and Freedom of Expression

Throughout this investigation, children highlighted how children lack opportunities to have a say and be taken seriously in decisions being made about the climate emergency.

Many children expressed frustration at the lack of action being taken by adult decision makers, despite children and young people speaking out and standing up for climate justice – such as in the Fridays for Future school strikes.

I think Climate Change impacts our right to be listened to an taken seriously, as some people do not believe children's pleas about the climate.

MCP, Age 10, Western isles

Whilst having the right to have a say and be taken seriously, children do not hold the responsibility to effect change – this is the responsibility of adult duty bearers. Yet, it is clear that children feel a pressure to be the generation to tackle the climate emergency. This has dangerous potential for increased feelings of anxiety, frustration and hopelessness if they cannot leverage the change needed (and demanded) of them.

To me, Climate Change is a big deal because we are the generation to change all this.

Investigator, Age 10, Highlands

The current adults may think it's up to us not them so they may do nothing.

MCP, Age 11, West Lothian

Children have got a big barrier. Some people just pat us on the head when we get proper good ideas and carry on with what they're doing and things will get steadily worse, if you think about it. They need to listen to us a lot more. They say, 'oh yes, we're listening'. Perhaps, they might have been just thinking we're being silly. They really need to take onboard what we're saying because if they don't it's our future.

Investigator, Age 11, Western Isles
Part 3 - Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Change

Part 3

Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Change

At the end of January 2021, all 115 MCPs were given the opportunity to participate in a second digital survey which invited the children to share their views on what changes Scotland should make to tackle the climate emergency.

As the majority of children were learning from home due to the national lockdown measures in place, the accompanying workshop was designed so children could take part independently at home with the support of parents and carers, and/or with their peer group with the support of school staff.

Like the Climate Assembly adults, all participating children were presented with a summary of the evidence around possible solutions for Scotland to take forward. This was complemented by creative activities, supporting the children to reflect on the key issues, the possible solutions, opportunities and potential challenges and barriers to their implementation. It also encouraged the children to share their own ideas and solutions. The results of the second survey can be viewed here.

In their conversations with experts and the Children’s Parliament team, the Investigators explored and discussed why it can be more difficult for some people to make changes to how they eat, live, travel, work and learn. Children highlighted individual and systemic challenges and opportunities for Scotland to consider in developing its approach to tackling the climate emergency.

 

Money

Children recognised that people have different levels of money and resources. Money is a worry for many children and families. Often, environmentally friendly options or changes are expensive or come at a price that families cannot afford.

Children, for the most part, do not control their own or their family’s finances and therefore, have limited influence on how their parent/carers spend money. Most children have limited choice on how they travel as they are largely reliant on adults for travelling to school, in the community, and on holiday too. Most children do not have a say in how their schools, clubs and play groups are run or funded, and therefore have limited opportunity to influence making these better for the environment.

In most families, it's the adults who go out shopping and buy the food. Most adults won't check the back of items to make sure it's local. That's the main barrier for kids.

Investigator, Age 10, Highlands

It can be very difficult for children [to make environmentally friendly choices] because usually their parents make them. They don't really get the choice and also, well, you can't really just say 'right, I don't like what we're doing'.

Investigator, Age 11, Western Isles

Some barriers for children are that their parents might not be wealthy enough to always offset their flights or get an electric car or get the thing that could save the world or reduce your carbon footprint. 

Investigator, Age 10, West Lothian

Accessibility

Children highlighted that children and adults living in rural areas or islands have very different life experiences to those living in urban parts of Scotland. For example, it is not always easy or convenient for children and adults to access public transport, or safe places to walk or cycle.

We have a path near us which used to be very muddy, but they put tarmac and lights in and now loads of people use it.

Investigator, Age 10, Clackmannanshire

Mission: Travel

"We each shared our journeys to school, to see how we all travel in different ways and why. Here you can see our creations, and ideas for what could make children's journeys to school more environmentally friendly."

Where we live, there are no cycle paths and sometimes the roads can be quite busy. I live 5 miles away from school, and I can't really go there without taking the car. Sometimes we go home on the bus, but it takes a very long route.

Investigator, Age 9, Western Isles

Knowledge and Understanding

Many children and adults do not know enough about the climate emergency, and why big changes need to happen in Scotland. Although there are lots of big, urgent issues needing our attention (like the Covid-19 pandemic), we need to help people in Scotland understand why climate change is an emergency too. There needs to be better education and information about the climate emergency for all children and adults, as well as opportunities to learn and develop ‘green’ skills.

Raising awareness is the first step to changing people’s attitudes and behaviour so they can live and work in a more environmentally friendly way. Raising awareness can help people know where they can get support and help if they are struggling with money, for example, to heat their homes.

Teachers have to teach us about Climate Change.

Investigator, Age 11, West Lothian

More awareness neds to be given to Climate Change because we've been focused on the pandemic, but Climate Change is just getting bigger and bigger.

Investigator, Age 12, West Lothian

I would like to speak to some of the people that own the shops around here and ask them to cut back on the plastic. It's not good. They need more education about it. Some people say 'yeah yeah yeah, I know' but they don't really. We need to actually tell them what is happening and how they can improve what they are doing.

Investigator, Age 11, Western Isles

Mission: Work and Learning

Inside the outline of the person. we shared what 'green' skills and knowledge we think children and adults should learn to help tackle the climate emergency today and in the future. On the outside, you can see some of our ideas for how children and adults could learn.

Marketing and Merchandising 

Children discussed how marketing, advertising and promotions play a big role when it comes to people making choices on what to buy and why. Shops and markets display items in such a way to attract attention and generate sales – this encourages people to buy more new things that they might not need. At the same time, they can be used as a force for good to help people make better choices for the planet such as labelling items with the impact they have on the environment and making environmentally friendly items cheaper for more people to afford.

I thought about having leaflets in shops to tell you about where the food is produced and all the information about it. This would raise awareness and help people talk to other people about it.

Investigator, Age 12, West Lothian

Shops have all these schemes to make people buy things. In shops, everything is plastic. If you want to buy a pack of six tomatoes, they're in a plastic box then covered in more plastic, and tomatoes are always more expensive when they're loose. Why is that!? We really should have less packaging for foods and be able to buy just the number of things we need, especially in school packed lunches too - the amount of plastic wrapped around items for packed lunches is crazy.

Investigator, Age 10, Highlands

We need to make it more accessible to be able to buy locally from local stores. Because if all the food comes in from different countries - it's okay if a bit of it does - then it's a lot harder to make a better choice. it would be better for the environment if we can buy more from local farmers and make more local ingredients so that we don't have a bigger carbon footprint.

Investigator, Age 10, Highlands

Mission: Diet

"What we had to do was we had to pick some foods we like, and then we had to investigate where they're from and how far they'd come from. I found out that some watermelon is from South Africa, burger is from Aberdeenshire, and that dark chocolate is from Madagascar and Germany. I didn't know the food was from so far away. To help tackle climate change, we should try and make more foods here." - Investigator, Age 10, Highlands

Attitudes and Popular Trends

Children highlighted that not everyone in Scotland cares about the climate emergency or wants to be part of the solutions. Not everyone wants to make changes to their lifestyles, and some people do not think it will make a big difference.

Not everybody is polluting the planet in the same way. Some are doing recycling and doing all the proper stuff to stop pollution and cutting down on their carbon footprint. But then some people are just putting like waste in the wrong bin or burning plastic.

Investigator Age 11, West Lothian

Children described how wanting to feel accepted or included can be a barrier to children and adults wanting to change their lifestyles or behaviours. Popular trends – for example, having the latest brands of clothes and toys – can make people feel pressured to follow these trends to feel included. As well as raising awareness, incentives can be used to encourage people to shift to more environmentally friendly ways of living.

Well, the thing that needs to happen is there should be a rule one car per household and public transport should be cheaper to use. There should be more cycle to school and work schemes, so more people are encouraged to cycle and walk.

Investigator Age 10, Highlands

Mission: Lifestyle

Sharing Libraries: We created imaginary posters and adverts to inspire people in local communities to use a brand new ‘sharing’ library opening in our communities. Here you can see some of our ideas!

Three posters of sharing libraries drawn by Climate Investigators Caitlin, Joe and Imogen

Working Together

In Scotland, not everyone owns their own home, and some people share their home or gardens with other people. This means that it can be more difficult for some people to make changes to their diet, lifestyle or travel by themselves. At the same time, while some of the solutions to tackling the climate emergency can be done by individuals, many require people to work together. A lot of solutions involve communities coming together to grow and source food and other lifestyle items locally, recycle and manage waste, restore and protect the natural environment, and share items, such as clothes, toys, books – even cars and bikes.

Tackling the climate emergency must involve speaking to and working with people who own private businesses, companies and land to help them make better choices for the planet.

It’s also important to work together with local councils to make sure people have access to information and things like recycling bins, and Scottish Government to make laws and policies that will make it easier for people to make environmentally friendly choices.

Why don't we just all get all [landowners] ... on our next call and tell them to plant loads of tress on their land?

Investigator Age 10, Highlands

We should speak to big toy markets. I got a toy LOL for my tenth birthday. It had five, six layers of plastic, then a plastic box and it had plastic bags and they should really cut back on this.

Investigator Age 10, Western Isles

Mission: Land and Sea

 

Part of the investigation involved creating a ‘dream home’ for Brochan, our hedgehog team mascot! Here’s some photos of the children’s creations.

Pictures of Keira's and Lana's hedgehog houses

Children's Parliament header Image for part four showing a drawn bee

Part 4

Calls to Action

Gathering all the views and ideas shared by the wider group of children in the second survey, the 12 Investigators worked to create a series of calls to action for each theme. In the third and final survey, the Investigators’ Calls to Action were put to a vote with the wider group of children to identify the top 3 children feel most strongly about, as highlighted in the following pages. The results of the third survey can be viewed here.

Diet

What diet changes should Scotland make to tackle to climate emergency? What needs to happen to help everyone make these changes?

Top 3

Teach children and adults about environmentally friendly diets and reducing food waste.

Make and sell more food locally in Scotland. Support environmentally friendly small businesses, organic farmers and butchers, choose to stock foods from Scotland over foods from abroad.

Label all food and everyday items with where they are made and their impact on the environment.

Make fresh, organic food cheaper. Make junk, processed and imported food more expensive.

Make more plant-based, animal-free options available in schools, nurseries and places where people work.

Launch a national plant-based diet week to raise awareness.

Well, I get my food from the shops but personally I don't know where the food comes from. I don't think people are bothered to read all the ingredient and where it's come from. I think it should be bolder on the packaging to know where it actually was from.

Investigator Age 12, West Lothian

Land + Sea Use

How should Scotland change how it uses its land and sea to tackle the climate emergency? What needs to happen to make these changes?

Top 3

Allow only sustainable ways of farming, fishing and crofting. This would include using natural fertilisers and reducing the numbers of animals being farmed or fished.

Create a national tree planting day in Scotland. Everyone would plant a tree, every year.

Protect wildlife and native species. This would involve a ban on hunting animals and making sure no new homes are built in places where there are habitats.

Protect wild spaces, coastlines and ancient woods. This would involve creating special sea defences to protect the coastline, cleaning up beaches and rivers, and stopping cutting down trees.

Create more woodlands and peatlands. This would involve helping people who own land to use their land to do this.

Make community gardens and allotments for everyone. This would involve teaching children and adults about growing their own food, and using schools for giving out saplings, seeds and tools. Have a special day in Scotland where everyone works in their gardens to grow food.

Create more nature parks and stop green spaces from being built on. In towns and cities, create green, traffic-free areas for children and adults to play.

Create more wind farms and solar panels so all energy in Scotland is renewable.

We need to just stop cutting down trees.

Investigator Age 10, Clackmannshire

Lifestyle

What lifestyle changes should Scotland make to tackle the climate emergency? What should be done to help people make these changes?

Top 3

Make sure new houses are built to be environmentally friendly. This would involve making them energy efficient.

Create sharing libraries in communities for toys, clothes, food, tools, books...and more! Ban plastic packaging and single-use plastic (especially cutlery, bottles and plastic bags).

Give money and help to people who struggle to heat their homes.

Make items that are not good for the environment a higher price. Use this money to help make environmentally friendly items cheaper.

Make using only smokeless fuel a law in Scotland.

Help people understand what they can do to tackle climate change. This would involve having adverts on TV and social media about creating less waste, buying less things, buying local products, travelling less to different countries, and saving energy.

Improve recycling in Scotland. This would include having more recycling points, even for things like clothes and toys, and having better, fun instructions for everyone to follow.

Make businesses pay for their waste and impact on the environment.

Make environmentally friendly things in shops cheaper and easier for people to choose. This would involve making sure shops promote and display environmentally friendly options instead of non-environmentally friendly options.

Sometimes it's really hard to have a less carbon footprint because all the shops are importing stuff to make more money. They think it's just up to them to make money but it's actually not because they are killing the planet doing that. So, I think it's up to the government and the shopkeepers to reduce plastic and reduce the food miles and all should try their hardest to do that.

Investigator Age 10, Highlands

Travel

How should Scotland change how we travel by land and air to tackle the climate emergency? What needs to happen to help everyone make these changes?

Top 3

Lower price of electric cars and have a renting scheme until people have saved up enough money to buy them.

Make travelling to school in environmentally friendly ways easier and cheaper. This would involve s'cool buses, cycle/walking buses, and more, safer cycle routes across Scotland.

Encourage cycling by making more, safer cycle paths and lanes, and making public bikes available in villages, towns and cities.

Make lots of electric car, scooter and bike charging points available for people to use.

Make prices for flying higher.

Create better railways to link up people in rural areas.

Make public transport more environmentally friendly. This would involve making it easier and cheaper for children and adults and making buses and trains electric or hydrogen-powered.

Ban diesel and petrol cars from being made and sold in Scotland. Instead, we can help make electric cars in Scotland.

A few hundred years ago, humans invented electric cars, but it was much easier to use petrol cars because it was easier to produce petrol so then we didn't use electric cars when they were invented a few hundred years ago. And the first electric car was built in Edinburgh!

Investigator Age 10, Highlands

Work and Learning

How should Scotland change how we learn and work to tackle the climate emergency? What skills and knowledge do children need to learn to build a better, greener Scotland and have greener jobs in the future?

Top 3

Create more jobs for looking after all our nature. This would involve helping people without jobs learn skills to have green jobs.

Help children and adults learn green skills that will help tackle the climate emergency like:

  • How to grow food and compost
  • How to recycle properly
  • How to repair and mend things
  • How to have a climate friendly diet
  • How to plant trees and protect wildlife

Make sure children and young people have information about the climate emergency in Scotland. This is so they know what's going on, how to get involved, or how to get help if they are worried.

Help schools to be environmentally friendly. Schools can be places for planting trees.

Shorten work and school hours. This is so people can have more time to do things like grow their own food, plant trees and repair things at home or in their area.

Involve children in decisions being made about tackling the climate emergency. This could be in school, in communities or at a national level – like the Climate Assembly!

Make sure all children and adults learn about climate change. This would involve hearing from experts in climate change. Make sure people are paid fairly to help with bills.

Teach children and young people about what ‘green’ jobs and qualifications they could get when they’re older. In schools, introduce children to different green jobs, and degrees at university which are designed to tackle climate change.

Help children to play, learn and have hobbies outside. This is so when children grow up, they go outside more often and want to look after our nature.

Speak and listen to all the people who grow, make, produce and sell things in Scotland. This is to understand what help they need to make their businesses better for the environment.


Illustration of next chapter showing a brochan riding a bicycle.

Part 5

Taking Us Seriously

In the first survey, we asked the children to share to what extent they feel their views and ideas are listened to and taken seriously by adults at home, in school, in their community and in decisions made about Scotland. When analysing the results with the Investigator team, one of the Investigators (age 11, Western Isles) reflected:

“Only a few children said they feel their views and ideas are listened to and taken seriously by adults in the decisions made for Scotland. This shocked me because we are told [by adults] that we are the future, we are the future…but how do you expect us to do anything if you don’t give us a voice?”

As we moved into the final part of the investigation, the children were invited to share their views and ideas on the next part of this process, including how they would like to receive information from the Assembly Members, and duty bearers in due course, in response to their participation. Most children emphasised the importance of hearing back from the Assembly Members, acknowledging their right to be informed about how their participation has been considered and to what extent it has been taken seriously, and on board. Here are some of the children’s reflections on why it’s important that children hear back from adults making decisions:

Children need to hear back from adults making decisions since they have the right to know what is happening.

MCP, Age 13, Edinburgh

To know what's happening and if the decisions can actually be done.

MCP, Age 11, Western Isles

To the prompt "I feel my views and ideas are listened to and taken seriously by adults", 16% agreed for decisions made in Scotland, 26% for decisions in the community, 79% for decisions in school, and 78% for decisions at home.

In one of the online calls, the 12 Investigators came up with some ideas for how adults can tell all Members of Children’s Parliament about how they have listened to their views and acted on them. These were put to a vote, with ‘an animation’ and ‘film clip from the adults’ being the most popular.

  1. An animation
  2. A clip from the adults
  3. A slideshow
  4. A letter from the adults
  5. A comic strip
  6. A book

The children also shared their top tips for adults giving feedback to children:

"Don't overword things, just say what needs to be said but not in a mean way." - MCP, Age 10, Highlands

"Make it simple to read and if there's a hard word, explain it and shorten the sentences." - MCP, Age 11, Highlands

"Adults should keep positive." - MCP, Age 13, Edinburgh

"Spark some fun into it." - MCP, Age 10, Western Isles

"Honesty." - MCP, Age 12, Orkney

"Colour and pictures and not long sentences." - MCP, Age 13, Edinburgh

"Be kind if their ideas are not going to be used." - MCP, Age 11, Perth & Kinross

About Children's Parliament

Established in 1996, Children’s Parliament is Scotland’s centre of excellence for children’s participation and engagement. Our mission is to inspire greater awareness and understanding of the power of children’s human rights and to support implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) across Scotland.

Through our children’s human rights-based, creative practice, we provide younger children up to 14 years of age from diverse backgrounds across Scotland with opportunities to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings so that they can influence positive change in their lives at home, in school and in the community. We use creative, participatory methods to support children to meaningfully engage in decision-making processes, as outlined in Article 12 of the UNCRC.

2021 is Scotland’s Year of Childhood, a year-long celebration of childhood hosted by Children’s Parliament. During the year we are exploring childhood through the lens of children’s human rights, creating opportunities to share rights-based practice in an atmosphere of optimism and confidence. You can find out more and how to get involved here.

For more information, please contact Katie Reid, Children’s Voices Project Lead, Children’s Parliament: katie@childrensparliament.org.uk