Using the convening power of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society over 12 Summits, 800 people from 400 organisations from across Scottish society have generated 1600 practical solutions to the Climate Emergency. The central message to the First Minister is that everyone involved stands ready and willing to work alongside her government and the Scottish Parliament to tackle the climate emergency.

This remarkable, collaborative effort has been captured in an interactive report [1]sent to the First Minister ahead of today’s scheduled debate in Parliament, ‘COP 26 action and ambition’. The report highlights the 10 Big Climate Solutions from the Summits with the scale, pace and impact to drive the change we need. It emphasises that climate change affects us all and we need everyone across Scotland pulling together to tackle the emergency.

Alan Caldwell, who has facilitated these Summits said, “After COP, everyone must redouble their efforts to deliver these solutions. We know what needs to be done, we know how to do it and we have the resources and expertise to make this happen. This is an emergency, let’s start acting like it is!”.

In 2022 each one of these 10 Big Climate Solutions will be the subject of its own Summit, this time focused on delivering that solution.  Caldwell explained, ‘We are calling on the First Minister to ask a Minister from her government and senior civil servants to join each one to work collaboratively with the leaders from across society to overcome any barriers and really drill down to make each happen. Recognising that the solutions need action from the UK Government the report has also been sent to Alok Sharma MP and the Scotland Office. 

The 10 Big Climate Solutions highlight the need to rethink how we live, work and play. They demand huge changes of all of us but as Mike Robinson, the Chief Executive of RSGS says, “We need everyone round the table, everyone playing their part to be successful. Together we can build is a future that is far more exciting, local and fair than what we have now. If we get it right, there is a lot to look forward to.”

The 10 Big Climate Solutions from the Summits include:

  • Adopt an alternative to GDP as a measure of success acknowledging that an economic system based on growth cannot continue in a world with finite resources. A successful economy is one that values the health and wellbeing of the whole population and ensures that every economic action has positive social and environmental outcomes.
  • Establish a Future Generations Commissioner for Scotland to speak truth to power and to challenge, inspire and hold to government and public agencies to account on behalf of our children and their children.
  • Guarantee universal access to climate literacy and learning. We all need to understand the science and connected causes of climate change, so that we can give the politicians the permission to make the changes required.
  • A rigorous climate test for public policy and procurement. Every public policy and piece of expenditure should be measured against such a test. Outdated “sustainability tests’ need to be replaced with measures that ensure every decision and pound spent contributes to tackling the climate and nature emergencies.
  • Repurpose and refit buildings to reduce their carbon impact. New planning, building regulations and investment criteria are urgently required to ensure our building stock is ready for a very different future.
  • Reform the tax system to incentivise good behaviours. Taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society. The tax system needs to reflect the climate emergency, taxing the bad and incentivising the good.
  • Invest in land and sea to sequester carbon at scale. Scotland must make our land and sea a sink for carbon emissions. We need to revisit subsidies and create new measures of success to reflect the true value of our natural environment.
  • Create a transport system that is clean, active and public. As a huge emitter of greenhouse gas in the UK, we need far reaching and radical changes to ensure a transport system that is clean, fair, active and public.
  • Ensure access to local, organic and plant based diets for all. The Good Food Nation Bill is an excellent start and should be strengthened to create a farming and food industry that is able to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.
  • Concentrate on the immediate transition from fossil fuels as there is no scenario where fossil fuels can play a part in our longer term energy future. Our journey to generating all energy from renewable sources must be accelerated.

The report includes 25 other powerful ideas many of which were shown to have the overwhelmingly backing of the UK public in a recent survey[2]. These include a 60 mph speed limit, a carbon tax, higher levies on flying and a nationwide public information campaign to match the scale of the one around the current public health emergency.

Jess Pepper, a fellow of RSGS, who helps to convene the Summits said, “While some solutions may be new and others familiar, as they have long been advocated as critical actions - the collective that they come from is significant. The Summits create space to urgently collaborate - not just talk - and focus on deliverable climate action. Each one brings people together from community action or education to creative and industry leaders, academics and public servants. These are not solutions promoted by one interest group but importantly by a diverse mix of people, as everyone has a role in delivering a better future”.

The Climate Emergency Summits provide a space for motivated people from across the sectors to come together in a safe, open workshop environment to identify ways in which Scotland can and should take positive action to help address climate change. 

Each of the summits to date has involves organisations from across the sectors, experts and senior government representatives and led to reports that have fed into a variety of policy discussions, consultations and the programme for government. The Summits are fast-paced, solutions and action focused events, which use the convening power and expert networks of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society to provide an opportunity for motivated, senior people from across the sectors to come together in a safe space.  

The 13 topics to date have ranged from taxes and incentives to nature-based solutions and specific measures for the construction industry to the green recovery from the global pandemic. 

in 2022 we will run 10 more Summits concentrating on the delivery of our 10 Big Climate Solutions.


[1] For a copy of the report see