Fairness was a key component in Scotland’s Climate Assembly’s process, deliberations and framing.
Engaging in a citizens’ assembly process could in itself, create inequalities, so steps were taken to mitigate this.
Members of the public who live in the lowest socio-economic are as of Scotland are often under-represented in engagement activities. More invitation letters were sent to households in these areas in order to get a balanced representation of the population. The gift of thanks Assembly members received was also chosen with fairness in mind, to ensure those on insecure incomes were not excluded.
Scotland’s Climate Assembly was fully online, so measures were put in place to ensure that a lack of technological literacy or access to a digital de vice would not be a barrier to participation.
Accessibility was also a key consideration for the Assembly, especially taking into account different learning styles and needs. All evidence presentations were recorded in advance and shown with captions. These were made available on the online members’ hub along with transcripts, presentation summaries and infographics. Assembly members were also given the option to receive resources, such as transcripts, in the post before each weekend to make following along with evidence easier.
Propositions of Fairness
The issue of fairness was embedded throughout the Assembly process including the question, ‘How should Scotland tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’
Evidence presented to the Assembly highlighted that climate change, and some policies to tackle it, disproportionately affect some people more than others.
Based on this evidence, Assembly members developed 22 ‘propositions of fairness’. These propositions completed the statement: ‘To be fair, the recommendations that we as an Assembly present to Parliament should…’.
Each Assembly member identified the top 10 statements which were most important to them. These were consolidated and ordered based on the statements which were prioritised most by members.
Prioritised by over 70% of Assembly members
1) Take into account the needs of different communities across Scotland, recognising that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution
2) Target the highest emitters so that organisations and individuals with the highest carbon footprint have to make the biggest changes
Prioritised by 60% - 70% of Assembly members
3) Act immediately so that future generations are not unfairly burdened with the responsibility of making change
4) Emphasise that it is everyone’s responsibility to make changes - individuals, communities, business and government
5) Support people to grow knowledge and understanding to make informed decisions, and help those with the least capacity to make change to play their part
6) Support workers in industries where change will lead to job losses
Prioritised by 50% - 60% of Assembly members
7) Spread resources and the costs of change equitably (rather than equally) - so that those can afford the most, pay the most
8) Be affordable to all and not disadvantage people on lower incomes
9) Not increase social and economic inequalities
10) Protect vulnerable and disadvantaged groups from impacts of climate change and measures to combat it, ensuring no one gets left behind
Prioritised by 20% to 50% of Assembly members
11) Not disadvantage rural communities
12) Prioritise measures and investments that benefit everyone for the common good
13) Be cost effective and consider implications for the public purse
14) Be free from self-interest and non-partisan
15) Not have a negative impact on developing countries
16) Support high carbon industries through the transition
17) Involve ongoing engagement with the people most affected by change
18) Not disadvantage people with disabilities
19) Consider Scotland’s impact and global share of carbon emissions (historically and for embodied carbon)
Prioritised by less than 20% of members
20) Ensure that businesses/ industries that have benefited most in the past, contribute the most
21) Not ask too much change from people too quickly
22) Put the people of Scotland first
Khopolo, Assembly Member
“This was an opportunity for me to learn more and hopefully contribute ideas towards making sustainable change in halting or reversing the effects of climate change. I was also acutely aware that climate change affects people in lower income countries like the one I come from more adversely so if there was anything I could learn to do to change that then it would be a worthwhile exercise.”
David P, Assembly Member
“I am a 71 year old retired Glaswegian. I worked in I.T. in various industries during my career. I travelled internationally, seeing many climate change and pollution problems.
I travelled by train through the triangle Hong Kong - Shanghai - Xian - Shenzhen. Throughout my journey, I saw pollution that resembled Scottish mist.
When working in Saudi Arabia, I witnessed non-stop gas flaring from oil wells. Night became day. Oil had value, methane was an impediment. In Northern Ontario, Canada, I travelled by train to Hudson Bay as there were no roads. I passed mile after mile of devastated trees, infected during the building of the railway line.
Death Valley, California has many worked out mines. The waste from these lies abandoned to blow in the wind, reminiscent of the coal binges of Britain. Fortunately, there is no Aberfan primary school to bury.
In 1989, I worked at Occidental Oil in Aberdeen. On 6 July, there was silence in the office. It was the 1st anniversary of 6 July 1988 when Piper Alpha exploded. The loss of 167 lives could be attributed to greed and inattention to health and safety.
The last two centuries of industrial revolution have damaged the world immeasurably. The human species has responsibilities for all forms of life on the planet. It is imperative that we all attempt to remedy the damage caused to our world, to save ourselves and other species.
I agreed to become a member because I thought that my experiences could give perspectives to issues that would not be otherwise known.”