Getting to Zero -Ten Key Points

The deadline for responding to the Scottish Government’s draft ‘overarching framework for engaging the people of Scotland in the transition to a net zero nation…’ is the 31st March.

These are Ten Key Points from SCCAN’s response.

  • It is no exaggeration to say that the next ten years are going to be crucial for the future of humanity. Given the scale and urgency of the challenge, this strategy is hugely important and must become central to everything that the Government does. It needs to go beyond being a ‘public engagement’ strategy to become a strategy for enabling participation by everyone, everywhere across Scotland -empowering us all to use our collective intelligence and local knowledge to play an active role in creating the rapid transformation necessary. 
  • It is vital that the Scottish Government shows strong and consistent leadership, avoids mixed messages and follows through on the community empowerment agenda to give everyone, in all communities, the agency to take action. We face a huge challenge which can also be an exciting motivator for collective endeavour. 
  • In the wake of Covid, there are key opportunities to join up agendas, to reimagine the purpose of our economy and to widen understanding and knowledge of the systemic nature of the climate and environmental crises. 
  • It is critically important that people really believe that the Scottish Government is serious about focussing all its efforts into a coordinated, joined up approach to tackling all the urgent interconnected crises facing us. This is not just about climate policy. The Scottish Government must demonstrate that it is actively putting in place what is needed for the radical transformation of our whole economic system to create a wellbeing economy focussed on enabling everybody to thrive in a thriving environment, in Scotland and globally. Clear and consistent leadership is essential. 
  • We propose revising the Scottish Government’s National Purpose that sits at the centre of the National Performance Framework. Currently this requires all new policies to show how they support ‘sustainable and inclusive economic growth’.  As our growth-dependent economic system is itself driving increasing inequality and is a root cause of the climate and nature emergencies, this creates a massive contradiction at the heart of government policy making.
    • Revising the wording, for example to: ‘For Scotland to be home to thriving people, where nature thrives on the land and in the sea whilst also respecting the wellbeing of all people, and the health of the whole planet’ would send a strong message that the Scottish Government is serious about supporting the transformation to a wellbeing economy, and fully recognises Scotland’s role in working for global climate justice. 
    • Done right, a relaunch of Scotland’s National Purpose could unleash the collective imagination of people and communities across Scotland to create a shared vision of the future Scotland its people want.
  • Community organisations such as those that are members of SCCAN can play a key role in raising awareness of how local action and projects form part of a Scotland-wide movement for transformation. But communities and their various networks need to be properly supported and resourced to undertake this work.
  • It is crucial that people have the opportunity to participate in policy design. It is also crucial that this doesn’t just apply to national level policy but also applies at the more local level where most people currently feel totally lacking in agency to influence policy decisions that directly affect their lives in their local communities.
  • We must reimagine how we do democracy at the local level, not just in terms of creating properly local democratic structures but also by reimagining how we work together so that diverse perspectives are welcomed and conflicting views can be worked with creatively. It must also involve reimagining Scotland’s planning system so that ‘place plans’ and the ‘place principle’ actually have some real meaning. Planning must start from the bottom up! 
  • We welcome the aim of ensuring that climate action is normalised and encouraged in communities and places across Scotland. And we welcome the commitment to supporting the key messengers who are most trusted by the audiences which the Scottish Government most needs to reach. However, there is no detail in the strategy as to what funding or other support community groups in Scotland will be able to access in the years ahead to resource local action to cut emissions and build local wellbeing economies. It is essential that there is long-term funding support for community-led action and investment in local infrastructure. 
  • COP26 can provide a real opportunity to engage a wide public. The Scottish Government could use it to signal its over-riding focus on building a wellbeing economy, fundamentally shifting the conversation to discussion about how we can ensure wellbeing for all in a much more equal society that prioritises regenerating our environment, rapidly stops our exploitation of the global south and which is upfront and honest in recognising the truth about our legacy and culpability for the crises we face globally.