February 18, 2021

Citizens Demonstrate Commitment on Climate Change

The Secretariat

86% of Scotland’s Climate Assembly Members voted for an additional weekend to draft recommendations on climate action for the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament in the first national, fully-online citizens’ assembly.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly is the first citizens’ assembly on climate change to take place in Scotland. Originally meeting for six weekends of evidence and deliberations to answer the question: ‘How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’, Members have now voted for an additional session. Work continues this weekend when they will hear evidence on the Climate Change Plan update and from the Committee on Climate Change. 

The Assembly’s recommendations carry weight - they will be laid in the Scottish Parliament and Government Ministers must publish a statement outlining how they will respond – just as momentum is building for COP26 (the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties due to be held in Glasgow on 1st-12th November 2021).

Assembly Members, aged between 16 and 82, have participated via an online platform to hear evidence from expert speakers in plenary sessions and deliberate in breakout rooms. For some, this is their first experience of going online, using equipment loaned by Scotland’s Climate Assembly.  

Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester, commented: 

“Within just a few sessions of the climate assembly the members are asking thought provoking questions, joining things up in new and interesting ways and probing why we say this or that is not possible. What quickly becomes apparent, is that armed with the basics, non-specialists are often better equipped to see the bigger picture and push the boundaries of what is considered possible. As with all complex societal challenges, honest partnerships between the specialists and the public yield the most fruitful insights.”

One Member, Aswad, said:

“Sometimes it gets a bit heated...but we all come up with a conclusion [about] what is going to get recommended to the Government.”

In Weekend 1, members were introduced to climate change at a global scale. Weekend 2 considered the climate emergency in the Scottish context. For Weekends 3 and 4, the Assembly divided into three streams to deep-dive into the issues of Diet & Lifestyle, Homes & Communities, and Work & Travel.

The Assembly will soon meet for its fifth weekend (20th-21st February). During Weekends 6 and 7 the whole Assembly will come back together to vote on their recommendations. Further details and dates can be found on our Meetings page.

Quotes from evidence presentations

  • Martin Kennedy, President of National Farmers’ Union of Scotland: “If we choose to ignore [climate change] then the future is bleak, but if we listen to the science [...] there will be a fantastic opportunity to maintain a sustainable future for all our species.”
  • Professor Sandy Halliday, Gaia Group:We need  innovation, but we cannot let the need for innovation slow us down. There is much that we can do now. To fail now is to fail forever...”
  • Professor Julia Steinberger, University of Leeds: “The time for gradual transition and incentives, in my view, I'm afraid, is gone.”