February 3, 2021

Update: Weekend 1 of Scotland’s Climate Assembly Complete!


Last weekend, Scotland’s Climate Assembly hosted members at their first Assembly meetings. Assembly meetings were held on Saturday and Sunday and took place online from 10.00AM – 4.00PM, with a break for lunch. The agenda for each day included a mix of presentations from expert evidence leads as well as deliberation sessions which took place in small groups of approximately 6-8 members, each with a professional facilitator.

Moving the Assembly online has provided Scotland’s Climate Assembly with the unique opportunity of including Assembly members who may have found it harder to travel to in-person meetings. Hosting an online Assembly also brings technological challenges and ensuring that members had an understanding of the technology and video conferencing platform was a high priority for pre-Assembly engagement with the Members.

The Assembly formally started with a welcome to the one hundred assembly members from the Conveners, Josh Littlejohn and Ruth Harvey. They also highlighted the strengths of citizens’ assemblies and introduced the question the members will discuss over the next five months: How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way? This was followed by an introduction to the science of climate change by Iain Stewart, the lead communicator who will accompany the members on their learning journey.

After lunch, Assembly members heard Alan Renwick’s top tips for engaging with evidence and heard about the global impacts of climate change from Kate Crowley. Tahseen Jafry and Anna Birney encouraged the members to start to think about opportunities for change and how they might interpret the ideas of effective and fair.

Between each presentation, Assembly members were sent into pre-assigned breakout rooms for small group discussions on each topic. As is standard with all citizens’ assemblies, these small group discussions are private to the Assembly members and recordings of these sessions will not be viewable.

On Sunday we welcomed members back to the second meeting day of our first weekend. After providing members with a baseline understanding of what climate change is and how it impacts our world, Sunday’s evidence sessions looked deeper into how we can adapt to these ongoing impacts as well as started to consider ways to reduce these impacts in the future.

An important part of the second weekend was the presentation from children working with the Children’s Parliament. 100 children from 10 schools across Scotland will be facilitated on their own learning journey by a team from the Children’s Parliament. Each assembly weekend, their views and insights from 12 young investigators will be shared with the assembly members, capturing the voices of those too young to join the assembly as members, but most impacted by the recommendations the assembly members will make.

Using the example of rock and roll, Anna Birney encouraged members to think about change at different levels. This will be an important theme running through Scotland’s Climate Assembly as members discuss How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?

As with Saturday’s programme, after each presentation Assembly members joined new breakout rooms to allow them to meet and engage with a different group of members for their small group discussions on each topic.

All videos are also available for viewing directly on our website on the Meeting 1 page. Facilitated deliberation sessions between the members are not publicly available. This is to preserve one of the core principles of the Assembly to allow members to discuss their opinions freely and without fear of judgement as they consider evidence presented along their learning journey.

Working Online

Hosting an online Assembly brings technological challenges, but the Assembly's move online has provided opportunities too, including the unique opportunity of welcoming Assembly Members who may have found it harder to travel to in-person meetings. We were also able to welcome a greater number of observers, and from several countries, than would have been possible in person. 

Ensuring that Members were comfortable with the technology and video conferencing platform was a high priority for the Support team in the lead-up to the first weekend. The Secretariat will evaluate Members' experience throughout the Assembly via an independent research program, and continually improve the process according to their feedback. 

Observer Session

Individuals not involved in the Assembly proceeding were welcomed to register as observers for the first Assembly weekend. Registered observers received the day’s agenda sent directly to them including links for each presentation video which they were able to watch in real-time with the members. As is standard with all citizens’ assemblies, observers were not able to sit-in on the facilitated deliberations for members which took place in small groups.

On Sunday, registered observers were able to join a live observer session where they were given the opportunity to engage directly with the secretariat; expert leads from the Evidence Group who had presented to the assembly members; and the Design and Facilitation team. This session was an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions about the first Assembly weekend as well as the overall process of Assembly planning.

While the majority of observer places are by invitation, we welcome individuals to register to observe future meetings. Details are available on our website. Please note, individuals not registered with their own information (name and email) will not be admitted to the live observer session.