Scottish Government 'must do more to engage public on climate change'

In a report published on Thursday, 23 members of the public came together to form the Climate Change’s People’s Panel.

Scottish Government ‘must do more to engage public on climate change’ Scottish Parliament

A panel has called on the Scottish Government to do more to engage the public on climate change.

In a report published on Thursday, 23 members of the public, selected at random, came together at Holyrood to form the Climate Change People’s Panel.

The panel aims to support Holyrood’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee in its post-legislative scrutiny of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, which states the Scottish Government must review a public engagement strategy for climate change periodically.

The report says the Scottish Government “could be more ambitious, delivering a positive narrative and enabling Scotland to set a standard of excellence”, arguing it has not communicated with the public effectively enough on climate change.

The panel said “collaboration with expert local and community-led organisations is key”, and there is an “inconsistency in communication, education, evaluation, the allocation of funding and, ultimately, that there is an action gap across Scotland”.

There is a total of 18 recommendations outlined in the report which the panel are to formally present to the committee on April 16.

Panellist Kevin Roarty, who is an analyst programmer from Paisley, said: “This has been a fantastic experience but at the heart of it all is the most serious topic.

“We felt that there needs to be more truth and honesty from the Scottish Government about the scale of the challenge, and that creating a more compelling vision of the better world we’re all aiming for would help.

“We hope the committee will accept our recommendations as positive, concrete actions that must be taken forward and that our efforts will make a positive difference to national engagement on climate issues.”

In the report, panellists unanimously recommend, for example, that:

  • Climate change should exist as a compulsory subject within the primary to high school curriculum and children should be involved in its development as a subject.
  • Robust, timely and longer-term funding (minimum three to five years) should be provided to help expand and adequately resource climate hubs.
  • There needs to be a legal obligation on all local authorities to co-create local climate policy, supported by funding from the Scottish Government.

Conservative MSP Edward Mountain, convener of the Net Zero, Energy & Transport Committee, said: “This report identifies the need for the Scottish Government to lead from the front to bring governments, business and the public together in a mutual understanding of the shared challenge we all face and the actions that need to be taken to effect change.

“Just last month the Climate Change Committee said that Scotland’s 2030 climate goals are no longer credible.

“Collaboration on all levels of society will be essential to help drive action forward.

“We look forward to taking evidence from the panellists during next week’s committee meeting and exploring their findings further with them”.

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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