Nicola Sturgeon is to launch a national conversation to ensure Scots are fully behind moves to make the country a world leader in tackling climate change.

The First Minister said tackling the problem must be a “truly national endeavour” as she announced plans for a Big Climate Conversation.

She made the move at the World Forum on Climate Justice in Glasgow, saying the Scottish Government’s ambitious goal was to eliminate the country’s contribution to global warming by 2045.

But she said decarbonisation would mean changes to virtually ever aspect of Scots’ everyday lives.

“We will need to change how we travel, how we keep homes and workplaces warm, and how we design cities and towns,” she said. 

“We will have to move rapidly from a throwaway culture to a circular economy and will need to develop and apply new technologies, while also planting millions of trees and restoring peatlands.”

As a result, she said she wanted to understand “what people are already doing, what further changes they are willing to make and what changes they will need to be persuaded to make”.

“This has to be a national endeavour, Government cannot do it alone,” she said.
The Big Climate Conversation will engage with thousands of people and businesses about the steps they can take to cut greenhouse gas emissions, she added.


Ms Sturgeon has already declared the world is facing a “climate emergency” and has pledged Scotland will play its part to help combat rising temperatures. 

At the forum at Glasgow Caledonian University, she said Scotland had already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 47 per cent since 1990, and, if her ambitions were backed by the Scottish Parliament, the nation would have some 
of the toughest statutory commitments in the world. 

The forum is highlighting the need for fairness in dealing with a problem that has largely been caused by developed countries, but which has its worst impact in poor nations and on marginalised communities and indigenous peoples.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The countries most affected are usually those that have done the least to cause climate change.

Countries like ours, which have become prosperous partly as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, have got to help those affected most by them.

“The world must become fairer as well as more sustainable.”

She said the Scottish Government’s climate justice fund was modest but was a marker that Scotland was serious about the problem. The Government’s “Just 
Transition Commission, one of the first in the world which was launched last September,” would help ensure that the benefits and any pain brought about by decarbonisation are evenly shared, she said. 

Ms Sturgeon said meeting the climate challenge offered real opportunities through the potential for new technologies and jobs. 

However, her announcement came as it emerged Scotland failed to meet legally binding climate change targets for 2017, with adjusted emissions rising by 3.7% over the year.

Other speakers at the opening day of the Climate Justice event included former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice. She criticised those who refuse to acknowledge climate change, especially corporations, comparing them to cigarette companies.

“Malign and evil people making profits deliberately by climate denial are acting like the tobacco industry,” she said.

She called for a human rights approach to climate justice and quoted the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “He said, ‘I’m not an optimist, I am a prisoner of hope’”, she said. “It is easy to frighten people about climate change but hope activates people. We need a bottom-up movement because too often we lack the political leadership.”

Dr Kerry Kennedy, president of the advocacy organisation Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, told the event tackling climate change and campaigning for human rights were inseparable.

Ms Kennedy, daughter of former US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, said: “Today frontline climate justice defenders are women and men who stand up to government oppression, risk imprisonment and torture for basic rights. These are today’s heroes.

“There is no difference between human rights work and environmental activism, they are in essence the same thing.”

She added: “Where people are powerless, democracy fails, corruption becomes rampant, rights are systematically violated and the environment is destroyed.

“It is no coincidence that in the United States the poorest communities with the least political power are consistently those that suffer the largest burden of environmental devastation.”

Ms Kennedy also highlighted the work of climate activists around the globe who are addressing climate justice. in “myriad ways.”

She also praised the willingness of the next generation to address climate change issues and said their attitude was personified in schoolgirl activist the “great Greta Thunberg”, who has inspired the school strike for climate change movement.

The forum is being organised by Elsevier in partnership with the Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University and runs until Friday. 
More than 130 delegates representing 35 countries, including the US, China, India and many African countries are attending.