How should Scotland tackle climate change?

Scotland's Climate Assembly
Democratic Society
November 2020 - March 2022
In Focus

Scotland’s Climate Assembly is Scotland’s first citizens’ assembly focused on climate change. Grounded in Scotland’s Climate Change Act (2019), the Assembly brought together over 100 ordinary citizens from across Scotland to deliberate about the climate emergency. They were tasked with answering the question:

How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?

How did Scotland's Climate Assembly work?

From November 2020 to March 2021, Assembly members met online for seven weekends. The Evidence Group created a learning journey ensuring that members heard balanced, accurate and comprehensive evidence about the climate emergency , and different ways of tackling it. The Assembly learned about climate change, mitigation, adaptation, fairness, and how change happens before splitting into three streams to consider Diet, Land Use and Lifestyle; Homes and Communities; and Travel and Work. Evidence was presented to the Assembly through video presentations, followed by discussions in small groups with experts on hand to respond to questions.

Assembly members also heard from children in the Children’s Parliament. As Scotland’s Climate Assembly members were aged 16+, the Assembly worked closely with Children’s Parliament to integrate their activity into the Assembly and ensure children’s voices are heard in decision-making. The children’s work was regularly fed back to Assembly members, which helped to shape the Assembly’s final recommendations. Assembly members and the children also met in an online workshop to share their views and experiences.

Assembly members set out their Statement of Ambition for Scotland, 16 overarching Goals and 81 Recommendations for achiving these in their Final Report. The children’s calls to action are integrated with the Assembly’s recommendations in this report.

The government response

The final report was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June.  The Scottish Climate  Act requires Ministers to respond within six months of receiving this report. This firm grounding in legislation is a particular strength of Scotland’s Climate Assembly, providing a direct route for Assembly members’ recommendations to policymaking. 

While waiting for the government response the Secretariat to the Assembly arranged a series of Ministerial meetings to enable Assembly members to speak directly with the Ministers, Committees and officals  working in those areas covered by the Assembly’s recommendations. There were also several meetings convened to provide opportunties for them to discuss their proposals with wider stakeholders.

In December 2021 Scottish Ministers published a formal Government Response to the Assembly's recommendations. It is a detailed and comprehensive response that addresses each of the Assemby's recommendations and provides an update of what is being done in Scotland to deliver on their Goals.

Reconvening Scotland's Climate Assembly

In February 2022 members of Scotland's Climate Assembly were invited to reconvene for an 8th weekend to consider the Government Response. Almost 3/4 of the original membership came back together online to review the Response, hear evidence relating to national and international commitments since COP26, question Ministers and re-engage with the members of the Childrens Parliament.

Over the course of the weekend they worked together to draft a Statement of Response to Government 

What is Involve's role?

Involve and the Democratic Society were jointly responsible for ensuring that Scotland's Climate Assembly was a high-quality citizens’ assembly. Both organisations worked on the assembly’s design, focussing on areas such as the assembly’s structure, timings and accessibility. Involve also provided member support for the 105 Assembly Members, including providing support for them to participate online and be confident in contributing to the process. 



Photo by Chris Flexen on Unsplash