In the January issue of the Voice for Arran, Pauline Robinson wrote about her experience as an observer at Scotland’s Climate Assembly. In her account she explained how the assembly process brought together a group of people who are broadly representative of the Scottish population to take on the task of learning about, discussing and making recommendations on how we can best tackle climate change. Specifically, they were asked to consider the question ‘how should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’
The following article was released as the Assembly’s interim report has been published:
Last month the Assembly set out 16 goals for tackling the climate emergency in an Interim Report which was delivered to the Scottish Parliament on 24th March. The goals cover a broad range of issues including domestic heating, emissions, land use, taxation and the economy. It is a mandate for urgent cultural change across society.
A Statement of Ambition by all Assembly members was published on 23rd March in The Scotsman, addressed to the whole of Scottish society, including government, businesses, communities and individuals. It gives a detailed overview of the changes members say are now essential. “If we fail to act now,” the Assembly warns, “we will fail our current and future generations, in Scotland and across the world.
The Climate Assembly is the second citizens’ assembly to be held in Scotland and the first tasked with addressing the issue of climate change. It is a “mini-Scotland” with over 100 members broadly representative of the country in terms of age, gender, household income, ethnicity, geography, rurality, disability, and attitude towards climate change. The Assembly operates independently of government. It is one of the first such bodies anywhere in the world to complete its work entirely online.
The Assembly met seven times over the past five months and members have deliberated on evidence from over 100 expert speakers. The remit of the Assembly tasks members with responding to the question: ‘How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’
The Assembly concluded its final meeting on Sunday with messages of thanks from all the leaders of parties represented at Holyrood. The Assembly’s full report with detailed recommendations will be published in May following the election of a new Scottish Parliament.
The Assembly’s recommendations carry weight – Government Ministers must publish a statement outlining how they will respond within six months of the final report – just as momentum is building for COP26 (the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties due to be held in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021).
The report of the Just Transition Commission, also published last week, recommends that “the lessons learned from Scotland’s Climate Assembly be applied across the development of all policies for tackling climate change.”
Co-convener Ruth Harvey said: “I am full of admiration for the contribution members of the Assembly are making to Scotland through their hard work and determination in grappling with so much complex, technical evidence. This is a learning journey I believe all of us in Scotland now need to take together. For the first time, ordinary folk are today setting out for our Parliament a concrete program so that Scotland can take the lead in tackling the climate emergency.”
Khopolo, a member from Dundee, said, “It was an immense privilege for me to be involved. We’ve been able to work together, while being able to disagree. I hope what we’ve come up with will get implemented and that the politicians will listen to us as ordinary members of society who have spent so much time trying to craft something that is relatively straightforward and simple to understand.”
Susie, a member from Dumfries and Galloway, said, “We’ve worked really hard. If you give ordinary people this evidence base, it is amazing what they can do in collaboration with each other. When I joined the Climate Assembly my daughter told me ‘that’s amazing, you’re part of history!’ It’s democracy in action.”