Climate Change - Net Zero Nation: draft public engagement strategy - consultation

Closed 31 Mar 2021

Opened 16 Dec 2020

Feedback updated 30 Jul 2021

We asked

We asked you to comment on the draft Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change, which provides a framework for engaging Scotland’s citizens in the transition to net zero emissions by 2045.

A consultation on the draft strategy was open for over three months, from 16 December 2020 to 31 March 2021. Through 19 open consultation questions, we asked for your views on important aspects of the strategy including the overall approach, strategic objectives and principles, the green recovery, COP26 and monitoring and evaluation.

You said

We received 178 responses to the consultation: 139 submitted via the online consultation platform Citizen Space and a further 39 submitted by email in an alternative format. 40 responses were from individuals and 138 from organisations.

A range of informed individuals and stakeholders shared their views and ambitions for how the Scottish Government can successfully communicate with individuals and communities and encourage the public’s participation in decision making. Your responses provide an essential evidence base for the Scottish Government to draw upon when developing and implementing the final Public Engagement Strategy.

We have published the responses received on where the respondent has given permission for us to do so. 

We did

We published the analysis of the consultation responses, completed by independent social research company The Lines Between.

There is evidence across responses that the strategy is welcomed, with broad endorsement of the objectives and principles included in the approach. As such, we will retain the broad objectives, principles and approach detailed within the strategy.

Some of the more significant points in the analysis included:

  • Include more detail on activities – we will include more detail on previous and planned activities and use a range of short case studies to showcase best practice. We will also include a Theory of Change model to show how input and activities translate to outputs, outcomes and impacts.
  • Show how activities relate back to the objectives and principles – we will use a range of icons and/or coloured text to clearly highlight where activities align with and contribute to the objectives and principles.
  • Consider language and wording of the principles – we will include more detail on each principle, and consider the language, particularly around ‘dialogue’ and ‘people’.
  • Not to add any new objectives – we will not add any new objectives.

Some of the other points in the analysis included:

  • Link the strategy to wider climate change context and other strategies – we will highlight links to the National Performance framework, Climate Change Plan update and Participation Framework.
  • Strong support for the use of trusted messengers – we will retain the emphasis on the use of trusted messengers and add further detail on who they are and how they will be supported.
  • Strong support for deliberative approaches and the Climate Assembly – we will include lessons learnt from the Climate Assembly and more detail on community climate action and youth participation and how these groups are supported to participate.
  • Scottish Government to collaborate with a range of organisations and sectors and use a range of communication channels – we will include detail on how we intend to work with other organisations and sectors and set out the channels we intend to use and how we will reach those least engaged.
  • Ensure communication is sufficient in scope, clear and relevant – we will commit to raising awareness of climate terms, avoiding technical terms, having clear and consistent messaging on action in Plain English and tailoring messaging to different audiences.
  • Highlight the positive benefits of a green recovery – we will include more detail on the co-benefits of a green recovery and emphasise that all sectors have a role to play.
  • COP26 being a unique opportunity to engage the public around climate change – we will include details of our COP26 public engagement work.
  • Accessibility of the strategy – we will produce the final strategy in PDF, html, Easy Read, large print and BSL formats to increase accessibility.
  • Monitoring and evaluation – in line with feedback we will commit to producing progress reports and an end-of-life evaluation, using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, and using clear language and visuals to ensure inclusivity and accessibility.

The response to the consultation will be incorporated into the final version of the Public Engagement Strategy, which will be published on the Scottish Government website in September.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


ERRATA: Since its original publication on 16 December 2020, the consultation period has been extended and will now close on 31 March 2021.  This extension is not anticipated to impact on the publication schedule for the finalised strategy.

This Draft Public Engagement Strategy sets out our overarching framework for engaging the people of Scotland in the transition to a net zero and climate ready nation. By putting our people at the heart of everything we do, we aim to enable and empower everyone in Scotland to be a part of shaping our transition in a just and fair way, building a social mandate for the societal transformation needed to become a net zero nation and one prepared for the changing climate.

We want to maximise the effectiveness and inclusivity of this strategy for the people, communities, and organisations that will be at the heart of delivering it. We are interested to know what you like about our proposals, what you think is missing, and what you think should change.

Given the national endeavour ahead of us, it is only right to consult on a strategy such as this. We encourage all interested parties to contribute your views to ensure that this strategy reflects the ambitious collaborative approach we are trying to achieve.

Why your views matter

Much has changed since our last public engagement strategy for climate change was published in 2013, and the revised approach presented in this document is rooted in the evidence, experience and expertise we have built up in this time.

This strategy marks a step change in how we understand the role of public engagement in climate change, moving from encouraging incremental changes in attitudes and behaviours, to facilitating a society-wide transformation. We know that we cannot achieve these ambitions without widespread endorsement and support from all sectors of society.

We are therefore publishing this strategy as a draft for consultation because we want to develop our refreshed approach in collaboration with stakeholders across Scotland.

Read the consultation paper.

What happens next

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence. The Scottish Government will publish responses, where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and a report summarising responses will also be made available.

Responses to the questions we have asked will directly inform the final Strategy.


  • Environment and Climate Change