Last year the Scottish Government engaged in ‘The Big Climate Conversation’ travelling to areas across Scotland in an attempt to gauge the views of a wider group of people.
More than 2,500 people took part across Scotland.The team also came to Orkney and The Orkney News was there to report on it. The Big Climate Conversation in Orkney
It was back in August 2019 that Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary in the Scottish Government for Climate Change addressed an early evening meeting in Kirkwall. The Scottish Government team had spent the day meeting with organisations and touring sites in Orkney. The evening event was too short for the complexity of the issues to be discussed. Despite that the main message from the public at the meeting was that the timetable to address the effects of climate change was too slow – that this is a climate emergency.
The report of the conversation exercise has been published. Click on this link to access it: Big Climate Conversation: report of findings
There were also community led workshops. Interestingly the majority of people who took part were educated to degree level and above with well over half of them women. Certainly in the workshop held in Kirkwall the level of knowledge in the room amongst the participants was extremely high which was probably why I was so disappointed by the event. So much local expertise in the room with no time to hear from them.
The information collated from the Big Climate Change Conversation is intended to:
inform the update to the Scottish Government’s current Climate Change Plan and the development of a new Public Engagement Strategy for climate change.
Scotland’s Citizens Assembly will also be addressing Climate Change.
Commenting on the report Roseanna Cunningham said:
“This report shows the breadth and value of the discussions that took place and I look forward to these continuing as Scotland progresses further to a net-zero society during the important years ahead.
The Scottish Greens have criticised the draft Scottish Budget published on 6th of February by the Scottish Government which they have described as ‘timid’ when it comes to climate change.
Patrick Harvie, MSP, Co- Convener of the Scottish Greens said:
“The lack of an emergency response in today’s budget reflects the lack of constructive engagement from the government this year.
“Our proposals include expanding the concessionary bus fare scheme to young people. This popular policy would not only encourage more people to use public transport, helping to tackle the climate crisis, it would make using buses more convenient and affordable for families and provide huge social and economic boosts to communities across the country.”
The draft Scottish Budget was introduced to the Scottish Parliament by Public Finance Minister, Kate Forbes, MSP, who had taken over the job after the shock resignation of Derek MacKay over newspaper reports about inappropriate text messages he had sent to a 16 year old male.
In relation to action to mitigate the effects of climate change ,Kate Forbes announced:
- £220 million of seed funding for the Scottish National Investment Bank to support its mission to drive the transition to a net-zero economy
- increased investment of £270 million in rail services and an additional £16 million in concessionary travel and bus services, taking total investment in rail and bus services to around £1.55 billion
- increased investment of £5.5 million in active travel
- £20 million for peatland restoration with a commitment to invest more than £250 million over 10 years
- Investment of more than £64 million to support the commitment to plant 12,000 hectares of forestry, with the aim to reach 15,000 hectares by the mid-2020s
- a new £120 million Heat Transition Deal and a total investment of £151 million in energy efficiency
- £40 million for an Agricultural Transformation Programme
Kate Forbes said:
“The global climate emergency is at the centre of our Programme for Government and we have already put in place the most ambitious climate legislation and targets of any country. This Budget will help deliver on that world-leading ambition.
“From increased investment in low carbon transport to funding for peatland restoration and forestry, this Budget sets out our spending plans to help us deliver the transformation we need across society to transition to net-zero.”
Orcadians are already taking action of their own and the Sustainable Orkney Conference will be taking place in March starting on Friday the 20th and lasting over the weekend.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame