Scotland’s Civic Charter on Climate has widespread backing
With just 10 days until the COP 26 climate conference opens in Glasgow, people and organisations from up and down the country have today backed big changes within Scotland to tackle the climate emergency.
Scotland’s Civic Charter on Climate is a landmark document signed by the likes of the University of Aberdeen, Edinburgh City Council, Oxfam Scotland, the Iona Community, John Muir Trust, Rock Rose Gin, Scotland’s national makar Kathleen Jamie, and bestselling crime writer Val McDermid.
“Scotland now has a mandate from its people to provide genuine global leadership on climate change,” says the charter.
The charter is addressed to the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, and to Scottish society as a whole. The Scottish Government will formally respond to the recommendations of the Climate Assembly later this year.
The charter states: “Through the Climate Assembly, ordinary people from across the country have laid the foundations of a strategic vision and urgent plan of action for Scotland to deliver on its climate change commitments.”
It continues: “Policy-makers need to take heed of both the assembly’s specific recommendations and the spirit of their report. Clarity on a national strategy that delivers on the Climate Assembly’s level of ambition will make all the difference.”
Anyone interested in signing up to Scotland’s Civic Charter has been invited to post their support on social media using #SignForScotland.
Scotland’s Climate Assembly is a “mini-Scotland” with over 100 members broadly representative of the country in terms of age, gender, household income, ethnicity, geography, rurality, disability, and attitude towards climate change.
The assembly heard from over 100 speakers and spent more than 60 hours learning and deliberating the evidence, to find common ground on how Scotland can tackle the climate emergency in a fair and effective way.
The assembly’s report sets out 81 recommendations agreed by an overwhelming consensus of members for tackling the climate emergency in a fair and effective way. These recommendations cover a broad range of issues including domestic heating, emissions, environmental impact in public procurement, land use and agriculture, taxation, transport (including air travel) and the economy.
Among the proposals put forward are plans for a National Nature Service aimed at creating jobs in rewilding and environmental protection, enhanced training and opportunities in green jobs, major cost reductions to public transport, a program of public education on climate issues, and a single “oyster card” for Scotland that would help integrate the country’s transport system. Another recommendation is to retrofit all existing homes by 2030, with all new buildings to be required to meet highly energy efficient Passivhaus standards. There is also a proposal for the introduction of a national tree-planting day.
“As a nation we have the opportunity to be pioneers, by taking immediate action to empower our next generations to lead sustainable lives by setting up the framework now,” Assembly members write. “As a society we will need to change and adapt to meet the challenges, and recognise that there will be costs. But failure to act now will mean greater expense, and more difficult changes in the future, in order to avoid catastrophic costs to the planet.”
The assembly’s report included calls to action from over 100 children across Scotland who participated as climate investigators with the Children’s Parliament.
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “The climate emergency is all around us, right now. Scotland’s rhetoric is great, and it’s time to show real global leadership by turning those words into action. Charities, community organisations and social enterprises all have a part to play and that’s why SCVO is proud to support the Climate Assembly by signing the Civic Charter.”
Josh Littlejohn, founder of charter signatory Social Bite, said: “This is about ordinary people providing leadership on climate action in Scotland. The Climate Assembly’s proposals are innovative and ambitious. They are also realistic and achievable, provided they are matched by political will. I urge more folks to get behind this, sign up using #SignForScotland and show there’s no better time for climate action in Scotland than right now.”
Ruth Harvey, leader of the Iona Community, said: “The vision, clarity, focus and sheer hard work of the citizens of Scotland’s Climate Assembly demonstrate just how seriously the people of Scotland take the climate emergency. They have asked our political leaders to be bold and visionary in turn. So now is the time to turn the heat up on decision-making, and to convert the detailed recommendations into powerful actions. The Civic Charter and the report show how this can be done – there is no alternative.”
Professor Iain Stewart, broadcaster and UNESCO chair in geoscience and society, and professor of geoscience communication at the University of Plymouth, said: "Scotland’s Climate Assembly was about more than just getting to grips with the economic, social and environmental choices our nation faces in response to the climate emergency. It was about getting a public mandate for how we in Scotland view our place in the wider world – our roles and responsibilities as global citizens on a planet that is rapidly transforming. And it’s that mandate that is at the heart of the Civic Charter.”
Rosie Simpson, of the John Muir Trust, said: “The recommendations in Scotland’s Climate Assembly’s report demonstrate how much agreement exists amongst people in Scotland on the actions we need to take in response to the climate emergency. Actions relate to almost every aspect of daily life – transport, food, land use, buildings, education – demonstrating a breadth of understanding and the societal scale of change we need. This is essential reading for Scotland’s policy makers and decision makers.”