Skip to main content

Language: English / GĂ idhlig


Chamber and committees

Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee

Climate Justice Fund

Letter from the Convener to the Scottish Government summarising key evidence taken on the Climate Justice Fund, 7 October 2021

Dear Ms Gilruth

Climate Justice Fund

As part of our international development work, the Committee recently undertook a one-off evidence session on the Climate Justice Fund.

Please find attached for your information, and that of your ministerial colleagues as included in the Cc line, an Annexe with a short summary of that session. I have also copied in the Convener of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee.

The Committee hopes this will be helpful to you in your preparations for COP26 in Glasgow.

Yours Sincerely

Clare Adamson, Convener of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee

cc Dean Lockhart, Convener of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee; Mairi McAllan, Minister for Environment and Land Reform; Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport


Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee

Climate Justice Fund

1. As part of its international development work, and in the run-up to COP26, the Committee took evidence in a one-off session on the Climate Justice Fund (CJF).

2. The Scottish Government announced on 21 September 2021 that from 2022 the CJF would increase to £6 million per year, providing £24 million across this Parliament.

3. On 30 September 2021, Members heard from the following witnesses—

Panel 1

  • Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland
  • Carolyn Sawers, Acting Chief Executive, Corra Foundation
  • Chris Hegarty, Senior Adviser, Christian Aid Scotland

Panel 2

  • Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director, Caledonian University Centre for Climate Justice
  • Muthi Nhlema, Director, Baseflow Ltd
  • Dr Geraldine Hill, Advocacy Manager, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)

4. There follows a summary of that witness evidence plus the written submissions (from Oxfam Scotland, the Corra Foundation and SCIAF).


5. The Committee sought to focus on five areas in particular—

  • The part Scotland can play in promoting global climate governance
  • Where climate justice fits in the context of our international development commitments
  • How we measure up against the Principles of Climate Justice
  • The impact of the pandemic and post-COVID recovery on our approach
  • What – given the emphasis of Scotland’s Climate Assembly on fairness – climate justice looks like locally and globally

The part Scotland can play

6. SCIAF wrote that discussions during COP26 will see the Global South demand adaptation be taken seriously in the form of climate finance. On loss and damage, it said those countries hit by climate disasters are paying the price for conditions they themselves did not cause. To be a leader and advocate, the organisation recommended the Scottish Government promote the Glasgow Climate Dialogues, the recent virtual sessions hosted jointly by the SG and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and which led to a Communiqué launched on 30 September 2021.

7. Oxfam saw COP26 as an opportunity for Scotland to “inspire global climate action”. It called for the Scottish Government to utilise its roles as European Co- Chair of the Under2 Coalition and a leader of the Wellbeing Economy Governments. Jamie Livingstone said he wanted the Scottish Government to appear on such platforms able to show a “credible climate justice example”.

8. Asked about hosting the recent Second World Forum On Climate Justice, Professor Tahseen Jafry said she was struck by how quickly the discussion was moving; also how far reaching, from islands in the South Pacific to Canadian Inuit communities, and across disciplines and organisations. She told us it was important to—

“…shift the conversation from a conceptual idea and the niceties behind it, into something that is tangible, meaningful and measurable.”

9. Citing an example of how even a small amount can make a big difference, Muthi Nhlema said the money to develop a database had helped highlight a risk of water contamination after flooding. From a modest investment from the Scottish Government, it had been possible to leverage further money from USAID, which had allowed the authorities to conduct “shock chlorination” and ensure water safety for 150,000 people.

10. He saw Scotland as an “active broker”, able to leverage other resources, and sharing and influencing others with its local-led ethos, flexible requirements, and experience of partnership working from the CJF and specifically the Climate Justice Innovation Fund.

11. Professor Jafry also thought the CJF and the example of what it had delivered could be “like building blocks in a pillar” for influencing the approach of the Green Climate Fund, development banks, and others.

12. While the doubling of the CJF was “laudable”, Muthi Nhlema said suggested there were things the Global South had to do too. But Scotland could use soft power and draw on its friendship to ask Malawi what it was doing to improve stewardship of its natural resources—

“We also have a part to play in this. We are not merely recipients of funding”.

Where Climate Justice fits

13. The commitment to double the CJF was “loudly welcomed” by SCIAF. It suggested an advantage of the fund was its scale in comparison with, for example, the Green Climate Fund, which had been seen to be less accessible to smaller organisations and nations with fewer resources. However, the CJF was considered more agile and direct, encouraging locally-led projects and more impact per pound spent. SCIAF saw scope for the fund to place more emphasis on building capacity and the sharing of technology. The organisation also advocated for increasing the CJF by a climate tax adhering to the “polluter pays” principle.

14. Innovation was crucial according to the Corra Foundation, stating that almost half of CJF grants involved new technology or farming methods. It recommended the fund should continue to support those looking to innovate and share their learning. The examples given covered the combat of crop pests, establishing solar bakeries, developing a bioenergy prototype, and collaborating with work on wells and water accountability.

15. Two of the Foundation’s recommendations were that the Scottish Government consider—

  • providing accompanying support for platforms for grant-holders to exchange experience and for spaces to help promote and disseminate their learning more widely
  • including a ‘climate impact’ or ‘footprint’ assessment point in future international development grant-making.

16. Leaving those least responsible for the climate crisis to pay the bill would be not only unfair, according to Oxfam, but going against the principles of “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” in the Paris Agreement.

17. Chris Hegarty of Christian Aid Scotland said—

“…the impact that the Scottish Parliament and Government can have through climate change is one of the biggest single ways in which we can have an impact on international development.”

18. Speaking about the work of his company, Baseflow Ltd, Muthi Nhlema described carrying out a mapping exercise of the water assets in rural Malawi as the “crown jewel” in the Climate Justice Water Futures Programme. This work could improve government decision-making on water resources and sanitation. It was also providing the data for local communities to hold non-governmental bodies, drilling companies for example, accountable if they were not properly installing assets. The work was in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

19. He said Scotland had done its part in supporting the generation of assets and it was now up to Malawi to increase their impact—

“That is the messaging that my organisation and other partners that we collaborate with are making at COP26, to say, ‘Thank you, Scotland. We should take it from here and this is how we want to do that’.”

Principles of Climate Justice

20. Welcoming the human rights framework proposed for Scotland, the Corra
Foundation reported “significant interest” in rights-based approach to funding. The Climate Challenge Programme Malawi was based on the principles of partnership and participation. The Foundation also sought a focus for future projects on inclusion, sustainability, and a “more equitable approach” to partnership with locally-led organisations. Having closer links to communities would not only be good for sustainability and relationships, but for awareness of climate issues, the “vibrancy of civil society”, and seeking social change.

21. Caroline Sawers told us—

“That is a point that we want the committee to have to the front of their minds, the potential for funding approaches to intentionally tip that balance of power and place power, participation and the strength of partnership very much in the Global South.”

22. Oxfam referred to the recent Glasgow Climate Dialogues, specifically one on adaptation and resilience, hosted by Oxfam Scotland and Oxfam in Bangladesh. This had called for those at COP26 to adopt locally-led adaptation principles, an approach it felt should be “echoed” by the Scottish Government.

23. Jamie Livingstone repeated a call from participants from the Global South for the Scottish Government to consider setting up a solidarity fund (in the context of loss and damage and in addition to and separate from support for adaptation and resilience) to show leadership ahead of COP26 on the issue of loss and damage.

24. Chris Hegarty saw a parallel between the theme of loss and damage and how even the concept of Climate Justice was thought about by governments a decade ago. He suggested the way Scotland had started talking about the idea and setting up the fund had proven “transformational” and brought about a positive response from partners in Africa and elsewhere. He wondered if it would be possible to do something similar and break through the “narrative and linguistic barriers” to push loss and damage further up the agenda.

25. Oxfam had not undertaken a detailed analysis of Scotland’s performance against the seven principles of Climate Justice. However, it commended the Scottish Government for supporting the Dialogues, along with funding the UN Conference of Youth (COY16), the official youth event of COP26.

Impact of the pandemic

26. Oxfam described the “historic juncture” at which we risked leaping from the pandemic into climate crisis; the UN Secretary General having described a “code red for humanity”, along with talk of a risk of “climate apartheid”.

27. The Corra Foundation supported flexibility as organisations adjusted to changing conditions. It had issued micro-grants from its own funds to those experiencing unexpected costs such as data top-ups, salary needs, soap and masks. That “fast and flexible” approach had been invaluable.

28. Given the pandemic had shown that countries can mobilise trillions in funding in the face of an emergency, Oxfam sought a similarly urgent response to the climate crisis.

What fairness looks like

29. If we fail to cut our emissions quickly or pursue policies adverse to that goal, SCIAF saw a risk of undermining the positive impact of the CJF. The organisation called for an emphasis on advocacy in order to deliver lasting change.

30. The Corra Foundation pointed to an opportunity to link Climate Justice with other “progressive priorities” at home – e.g. empowering communities and the diversity agenda. Climate change mattered not just in an environmental sense but in all contexts; be that health, equality, education, economy, culture, science, security or community.

31. The Foundation underlined that funding ought to be transparent and accountable, but also respectful, an undertaking of shared work, not to be seen like “paying a bill”. There were opportunities to exchange learning and experience, an approach of “co-design”, be that over new technology or projects led by young people. In terms of Climate Justice in Scotland, reference was made to a project supporting Scotland’s Young People’s Forest.

32. It was also involved in “I will”, a movement supporting young people to take social action. It welcomed the emphasis on consultation and inclusion, similar in approach to the Scottish Climate Assembly (SCA) and called for the CJF to continue in that vein.

33. Also referencing the Assembly, Oxfam pointed out that 20-50% of the SCA’s members considered climate action should not negatively impact on developing countries. The Scottish Government’s response would need to show a “sharp focus” on fairness here and abroad. The charity also drew attention to plans for the Scottish Government to set up a new Global South Programme Panel to ensure that expertise would continue to feature in the planning of its international development work.

34. When it came to COP26, Professor Jafry encouraged us to be—

“…crystal clear about what we are contributing with reference to our Climate Justice approach and how it is very clearly different from the just stage of development…That is what is going to give Scotland a lot of traction and get others to follow suit.”


35. The Committee highlights this evidence to the Scottish Government and colleagues on the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee.