Surefoot - our projects
Climate Conversations with the public
Feedback on the 2 projects revealed that a series of Climate Conversations is an effective way to better understanding views on climate change and also a useful method to encouraging interest, awareness and action.
Climate Conversations is a workshop-based approach, comprised of a 1.5-hour session that introduces people gently to climate change and how to best respond. Tackling climate change requires a shift in attitude and lifestyle at individual and collective levels.
Read more about the concept and our methods for Climate Conversations
A brief introduction and link to each sums up essential elements of each project:
Climate Change - Public Conversations Series 2017-2018
To encourage discussions about how to reduce the emissions that cause climate change, and prepare for a changing climate, The Scottish Government initiated a series of “Climate Conversations.”
Our report shows the findings from a series of Climate Conversations which Surefoot undertook with the Scottish public during 2017 and 2018, to ‘take the temperature’ of public views on climate change and on potential actions to tackle it. Ten conversations were held with non-environmentally focused voluntary and community groups across Scotland. The groups included a local community growing group, a community council, a group of mountain climbers and group of young people engaging with a local authority. The conversations were held in cities, towns and with an island community.
The conversations included discussion of 9 low carbon scenarios of what life might look like in Scotland in the year 2030. The scenarios covered Transport, Energy, Food and Purchasing.
A few extracts from the report:
The information presented on climate change activity was for many participants familiar and was believed to be fairly well known. The information on climate change activity revealed however that there is a level of uncertainty about the role of natural cycles in climate change; this is a new finding.
With respect to impacts, flooding and higher rainfall are the most widely stated manifestations of climate change in Scotland. Many participants were unable to suggest how climate change might affect the landscapes beyond the direct impacts of flooding and higher rainfall.
When it comes to tackling climate change, there is some concern that some of the scenarios put too much responsibility on individuals, requiring too much time and commitment, and a feeling that businesses and government should do more to make acting on climate change easier and attractive for individuals.
Most participants said in their feedback that they might take action as a result of the taking part in the Climate Conversation. Notably one respondent spoke about climate change to over 100 people. They spoke at a conference, and was inspired by their participation in the Climate Conversations to incorporate climate change into their presentation. This suggests there may be potential to engage ‘non-climate change’ opinion formers and influencers in climate conversations with significant benefits.
Some participants identified positive possibilities and expressed hope for the future:
“Blue Planet II has talked about global warming and temperature rises in the ocean. Global action is being taken to combat this. If people and countries take action on this information maybe it won't be so bad.”
“Becoming more involved in community activism, both generally and in particular regard to mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.”
“Find out more about climate change and what realistic/simple changes I can make to my daily routine that will make a positive difference.”
Read our full report ‘Climate Change - Public Conversations Series’: Climate Conversations, 2017-18
Climate Change - Public Conversations Series 2016
During the ‘Climate Conversations’, initiated by The Scottish Government in 2016, 90 members of the general public participated in conversations. Each conversation was facilitated to give all participants an opportunity to discuss, firstly, how climate change might affect places, people and activities in Scotland, and secondly, their views on 9 descriptions of what low carbon life might look like in 2030.
We recruited participants, in each of 10 locations, for each conversation, with between 10 and 6 participants attending each of the 10 workshops. Participants were selected to be typical of the demographic of the location.
Our report states, the key findings are that people are generally aware of climate change as both an issue and a problem and were aware that action is necessary to tackle it. Some of the participants’ comments showed confusion between concepts and some factual inaccuracy. However, overall the majority of participants appeared reasonably well informed and were keen on taking positive actions.
Regarding views on the impact of climate change, the most prevalent themes concern the impact of climate change on landscape and wildlife. The impact of climate change on humans was generally related to flooding and food supply, and almost invariably restricted to changes and affects within Scotland itself. The impact of climate change in other parts of the world having indirect impacts in Scotland - such as on imported food, migration, global economy - was very rarely mentioned.
Answers on the question 'How can we reduce emissions?' often involved community-level infrastructure - and raised new questions and demand for more information:
“Scottish Government says “no fracking”. So if we don't have fracking and we don't want nuclear, what have we got that’s green? We’re importing coal from Australia for heating. We're starting electric cars, but we need electricity to run them. Where will electricity come from? Windmills will blight the landscape."
“What about alternative energy - wave, offshore wind farms?"
“We need education to help the adults of the future make the right decisions.”
Positive outcomes are highlighted in relation to the historical perspective on change and bring hope for the future:
“I'm from Glasgow, and we used to get smog, so bad you couldn't see from here to that wall. They stopped that, it was caused by coal. And that's what you're ending up with: a clear sky and clean buildings and trees. I'm seeing some good!”
And hope for new sources of energy:
“Wave power. There must be a huge amount of energy in wave power.” “Tidal power is supposed to be good. If we can get that working…”
Read our full report ‘Climate Conversations for The Scottish Government’: Climate Conversations, 2016