Climate Conversations reveal attitudes to climate change in Scotland


Do the general public want to help Scotland fight climate change?

In 2016 Pam Candea and I facilitated a series of ten conversations about climate change on behalf of the Scottish Government. The results, drawn from these and other Climate Conversations, are summarised in the draft Climate Change Plan laid in the Scottish Parliament on 19th January 2017.

The key findings are:

Climate Conversations work as a way to engage with the general public on climate change, and participants enjoyed the conversations.

Knowledge of climate change:

  • People are generally aware of climate change as both an issue and a problem and were aware that action is necessary to tackle it. There was some confusion between concepts and some factual inaccuracy in the conversations, however many of the participants appeared reasonably well informed.
  • Participants want to act on climate change but want more information on climate change, the impacts of climate change and the actions they can take.
  • Participants felt they were already taking some action on climatechange.


  • The most prevalent themes concern the impact of a changing climate in relation to transport disruption, wildlife and ecosystems, changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, food supply and land use, and changes to energy generation.
  • Local energy and public transport were consistently popular themes in the conversations, with strong support for improvements to the public transport network, and participants favoured increased energy generation through renewables.
  • Across the groups there were strong views that improving energy efficiency of homes and sourcing power from renewable energy would both reduce emissions and create signicant added benefits to local people’s health, wealth and wellbeing.

Going forward:

  • People want to engage but need help to go from interest to action. The low carbon choice needs to be the easy choice and the fair choice.
  • Some groups highlighted an appetite for an ambitious and holistic vision of the future.
  • People want a transparent and consistent approach to climate change across government.

from Draft Climate Change Plan – the draft Third Report on Policies and Proposals 2017-2032. See Annex C p166