December 8, 2021

Power to the People: Using public dialogues to keep 1.5°C alive


Speaking at a COP 26 event on 11 November in WWF’s Pandahub on “using public dialogues to keep 1.5 alive”, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson MSP announced funding for a new network of resource libraries in response to a recommendation of Scotland’s Climate Assembly and the Children’s Parliament.

The £310,000 reuse and repair scheme, funded jointly with Zero Waste Scotland, will allow people to borrow items such as tools, equipment, clothes and toys, and will also see repair cafes set up to teach the skills to repair items.

The Circular Communities Scotland charity will oversee the scheme in collaboration with Edinburgh Tool Library and Edinburgh Remakery in a drive to increase the number of sharing library and repair cafe projects across Scotland from 24 to 100 in the next three years.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly made 81 recommendations to the Scottish Government, backed by 41 calls to action from the Children’s Parliament’s climate investigation, and the announcement by Mr Matheson signals the first of the recommendations to be acted upon. It came ahead of the Scottish Government’s full response to the Assembly’s Recommendations for Action report due this month.

Speaking at the event, Mr Matheson mentioned the forthcoming Government response:

“I hope that by the end of the year when we respond to the 81 recommendations, you'll be left in no doubt about the Scottish Government's commitment in doing everything we can to play our part in tackling the twin crises of climate change and nature loss that's affecting us here in Scotland, but also affecting the rest of the globe."

The new scheme addresses the Assembly’s recommendation to “establish a network of ‘Resource Libraries’ across the country, where people can ‘borrow’ high quality tools and equipment that are maintained and repaired by the library, rather than buying seldom used items themselves.”

The recommendation is one specific action within a wider Assembly goal to reduce consumption and waste by embracing society wide resource management and reuse practices.

On a panel also featuring Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns WWF-UK Kate White OBE, CEO of Scottish Power Keith Anderson, Spokesperson for the Global Assembly Richard Wilson, and UK Head of Strategy for National Grid Claire Dykta, Mr Matheson described social and environmental impacts of the new scheme:

“Sharing libraries provide a direct reduction in consumption, waste and emissions because they allow people to switch from purchasing and owning items to borrowing them instead. Repair cafes give people the skills to re-use their own items. This network also supports our drive to tackle poverty by giving lower income groups access to tools or equipment not otherwise available and the skills to use them.”

Mr Matheson went on to discuss the wider impact of citizens’ assemblies on climate policy:

“It's a mechanism that I believe from a ministerial point of view helps to get you a detailed and clear understanding of the public's view out with the political bubble. It gives a voice to individuals directly, in a process of informing and in shaping national policy making and national policy thinking on what is the biggest challenge that we face globally and that is the issue of climate change and nature loss.”

Mr Matheson continued:

“It’s a very powerful tool to act as a check on ministers and government, but to also act as a voice internally in policy making and policy design on how we move things forward in a way that is very clear and very direct to ministers and to government.”

Assembly members will consider the Scottish Government’s response to this and their 80 other recommendations when they meet for an 8th weekend in the new year.

You can watch a recording of this event here.