Scotland’s Climate Assembly is Scotland’s first citizens’ assembly focused on climate change. Grounded in Scotland’s Climate Change Act (2019), the Assembly brought together over 100 ordinary citizens from across Scotland to deliberate about the climate emergency. They were tasked with answering the question:
How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?
What is a Citizens' Assembly?
A citizens’ assembly brings together a group of people who are broadly representative of a population to learn and deliberate about a topic before they make recommendations. Assembly members first learn from experts and each other’s lived experience. This ensures every participant has the same foundational knowledge and their discussions and deliberations are evidence-based. The recommendations that an assembly makes can feed into policy, allowing ordinary citizens to inform decision making on important and contested social issues.
Assembly members were selected to reflect the wider population, ensuring their recommendations are grounded in diverse backgrounds and experiences. Scotland’s Climate Assembly sent out 20,000 invitations to randomly selected households across Scotland. Of those who responded, 105 people were invited to take part in the Assembly. Assembly members were selected to be broadly representative of Scotland’s population in terms of age, gender, disability, household income, geography, ethnicity, rurality and attitudes towards climate change.
Due to Covid-19, the Assembly was conducted online, and it was important to ensure that this was not a barrier to participation. Those who had little or no experience of being online were encouraged to apply, and support was available for all members before and during the Assembly.
Learning Journey and Deliberations
From November 2020 to March 2021, Assembly members met online for seven weekends. The Evidence Group created a learning journey ensuring that members heard balanced, accurate and comprehensive evidence about the climate emergency , and different ways of tackling it. The Assembly learned about climate change, mitigation, adaptation, fairness, and how change happens before splitting into three streams to consider Diet, Land Use and Lifestyle; Homes and Communities; and Travel and Work. Evidence was presented to the Assembly through video presentations, followed by discussions in small groups with experts on hand to respond to questions.
Assembly members also heard from children in the Children’s Parliament. As Scotland’s Climate Assembly members were aged 16+, the Assembly worked closely with Children’s Parliament to integrate their activity into the Assembly and ensure children’s voices are heard in decision-making. The children’s work was regularly fed back to Assembly members, which helped to shape the Assembly’s final recommendations. Assembly m embers and the children also met in an online workshop to share their views and experiences. The children’s calls to action are integrated with the Assembly’s recommendations in this final report.
This report lays out Scotland’s Climate Assembly’s recommendations for Scottish society to tackle the climate emergency. It begins with a Statement of Ambition, calling for radical and decisive action, then details 16 goals and 81 recommendations. The recommendations were supported by an overwhelming consensus of Assembly members. The Assembly is embedded within Scottish Parliamentary process and Scottish Ministers are required by law to respond to the recommendations within six months of this report being laid in Parliament.
Alessia, Assembly Member
"This journey has been invaluable because it allowed us, the citizens, to expand our knowledge on this paramount issue and provide the Parliament with guidance on what we believe needs to be done to tackle it. Moreover, I learned a lot from the other Assembly members, as we all come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences."