Customer story: Scottish Climate Assembly, UK

Climate Conversations
'screenshot of 'Scottish Climate Assembly, UK
'screenshot of 'Scottish Climate Assembly, UK

Tackling climate change in Scotland

The Scottish Climate Assembly was a citizens’ assembly, commissioned by the Scottish Government in 2020 as a way of answering the question: ‘How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’

About 100 people from all across Scotland convened over seven weekends from November 2020 to March 2021. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all the sessions had to be completed online. This allowed participants from some of the remotest parts of Scotland to attend.

Assembly members heard diverse perspectives and expert presentations about the climate emergency. Members considered evidence and made recommendations in three areas:

  • Diet, Land Use & Lifestyle
  • Homes & Communities
  • Travel & Work

While the sample of participants was representative, meaning it included people from all different demographics in Scotland, the nature of citizens’ assemblies means that the vast majority of citizens are excluded from proceedings.

Giving all citizens the chance to have their say

Given that the climate emergency is something that affects every citizen, the Scottish Climate Assembly wanted to allow other Scottish people to have a stake in the proceedings of the Assembly. So they set up an online platform to allow those not invited to take part a chance to have their voices heard.

They chose Dialogue, a discursive tool designed for structured, meaningful online conversations.

The team set up a challenge which asked the same question posed to the members of the Climate Assembly. Anybody who wished to participate could share an idea about what they thought the Assembly should discuss, and rate and comment others’ ideas. Ideas were taken into consideration in the development of the agenda for assembly weekend.

Constructive conversations, demonstrable impact

The Scottish Climate Assembly team pre-seeded a few ideas, on topics like ‘recovering from COVID-19 and ‘green jobs’ to kick off the conversation, and by the time the challenge had closed there were 235 ideas and hundreds of comments.

Ideas were well-informed and highly considered, with thoughtful comments in both English and Gaelic.

Dialogue’s moderation features made it easy to sift through ideas and comments, and admins were able to ‘lock’ ideas that were similar to existing ideas, and display a moderation reason at the top of the locked idea to explain the decision that was made.

Ideas from the Dialogue were read by the experts presenting at the Climate Assembly, assessed for feasibility and put to Assembly members with recommendations on how or if the idea could reasonably implemented in line with the Assembly principles of fairness and effectiveness.

The Scottish Government will have 6 months to respond to the recommendations put forward by the Assembly. Using Dialogue to supplement the Assembly’s activities tied into their commitments to openness, transparency and inclusivity.

The general population has a genuine stake in the outcomes of the Assembly and therefore it is important they have the opportunity to have an input into its proceedings.

The Scottish Climate Assembly

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