“The future of the planet is in our hands right now, and it’s just unthinkable that we fail to face up to this” says Nicola Sturgeon in a new documentary film that premiered in November.

Scotland: Our Climate Journey, which was premiered during COP26 in Dundee, narrates Scotland’s climate journey through the past, present and future. Mapping how far the country has come as one of the leading nations in climate change policy, and how far it still has to go. The film takes viewers through the journey beginning over a decade ago, with the forming of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition and the eventual passing of the 2009 Climate Act, then branches out to explore real world examples of the change that this legislation helped to inspire across Scotland.

This insightful, fascinating and encouraging feature-length documentary, presented by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) in collaboration with Balfour Beatty, is narrated by a wide range of individuals from across the country from different sectors, offering different perspectives, but all contributing in the battle against climate change. As the film uncovers the journey of policy, industries, communities, farmers and scientists, we will learn that Scotland already possesses most of the tools and expertise needed to fight the climate crisis.

The film features locations across Scotland from Glasgow to the Flow Country.

The trailer showcases just a handful of the academics, businesses, activists and community projects involved in the film, “Are we doing enough? Probably not, are we doing it fast enough? Probably not, could we do more? Absolutely!” states peatland science Professor Roxanne Anderson from Forsinard in the Flow Country. Donald Boyd of the Huntly Development Trust offers a community perspective “If we all sit back and wait for government or big business to sort it, it won’t be enough.” And Fraser Stewart, applied researcher at the University of Strathclyde who specialises in climate justice in Scotland states “they say ‘people in these schemes, working class people don’t give a sh*t about climate change’, they do!”

The film premiered at Dundee Contemporary Arts on 11th November, and was hosted by the RSGS. At the premiere were a host of individuals from across Scotland and beyond, including academics, environmentalists, broadcasters, the filmmakers, and the documentary’s contributors. The film was very well received and described as an informative yet inspiring insight into Scotland’s climate journey, leading to a spontaneous round of applause as the credits rolled, with many encouraging comments received since:

“(The film) is such a huge tribute to the work of SCCS (Stop Climate Chaos Scotland), and many others at a national and global level - inspirational people who are seeing possibilities and can clearly see the way forward.  It’s very uplifting, and I thought it was refreshingly optimistic...  It was so well filmed as well, very sleek, professionally presented - powerful but not overdone.”

“The film does give hope, of the journey we have taken. It gave me a chance to reflect personally of the things I have done to help this work; a moment to stop and think; to see the foundations for the actions we are on now.”

“Congratulations on what was a brilliant event last night. The film itself was excellent - very positive and lots of good stories. It was also nice to see some of the "stars" in the audience.

“Marvellous! What a well put together documentary with a much-needed sprinkling of optimism.”

“I must say that I thought that it was absolutely superb. I found it to be insightful, informative, and entertaining. More than this though, what I absolutely adored was that for me the tone of the film's story also captured the values and sensibilities of Scotland's culture supremely well.” 

Inside the cinema at the film premiere

Speaking on the film RSGS CEO Mike Robinson said “Scotland of course has a way to go in the fight against climate change. No country has yet done enough to tackle this global issue. But whilst we still have a long way to go, we still need to take time to acknowledge the change we have made so far. This documentary brilliantly depicts the journey of Scotland in setting targets and building a response, and asks contributors to reflect on the future and its net zero targets. In what can so often feel like an uphill battle, I hope it will encourage and invigorate all of those who are doing the right thing to keep pushing, and inspire others to follow them.”

The film is the second feature film created by Scout Studio duo Finbar O’Sullivan and Ted Simpson, who travelled the length and breadth of the country, interviewing individuals from local communities and businesses in Glasgow, Aberdeenshire, Perth, Dundee, The Flow Country, all the way to Holyrood.

Director Ted Simpson (left) and Producer Finbar O'Sullivan (right) at the premiere

"Making this film has been an incredible experience.” said producer Finbar O’Sullivan, “When myself and Ted (Simpson) began production early in 2021, we realised very quickly that the scope of the stories that we could cover was enormous. One of the most difficult parts of the whole process was deciding who to visit and which stories to tell, there were so many truly amazing options. Having had the opportunity to travel throughout Scotland, meeting people from all walks of life, all working hard and contributing in their own way to the climate fight, was nothing short of inspirational. We hope that people watching this film will leave it with the same sense of hope and encouragement for our shared future that we felt as we were making it."

Director Ted Simpson commented “This felt like a really important film to make. Scotland has so much to be proud of in the fight against climate change, with genuine lessons that can be shared worldwide. But there is also so much work to be done. For me, finding the balance between these amazing stories, and amplifying the voices who are showing the way for future progress, was a fascinating challenge, and a real privilege. I can’t wait for audiences to meet some of the characters we filmed with during COP26, and as well as a sense of optimism for the journey so far, I hope they really get a sense of the very real action that’s happening all across Scotland in this most important of issues. There is so much to explore in this realm and we’re certainly inspired to keep finding and sharing these stories in the future.”

Finally, Mike Robinson said “We are already being approached by communities, businesses and schools who are really keen to run screenings of this film. Please get in touch with us at the RSGS if you would be interested in doing so too, or register through the website at www.scotlandsclimatejourney.co.uk, where you can also watch the trailer, and register for news regarding upcoming screenings.”

For more information on Scout Studio and their upcoming projects you can visit their website at www.scout-studio.co.uk.