Climate Change and COP 26 in Glasgow

Inclusion Scotland publishes climate change report ahead of COP 26

Ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) UN climate conference in Glasgow in November we are publishing our set of reports It’s Our Planet Too: Climate Change, Disabled People and Climate Action in Scotland to impress upon decision-makers the importance of involving and including disabled people in climate action and to highlight disabled people’s priorities for change ahead of COP.

The report makes clear that efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change in Scotland will impact on many aspects of disabled people’s everyday lives but disabled people’s needs and perspectives can be largely “invisible” and excluded from initiatives to reduce emissions, tackle waste and address plastic pollution in Scotland.

With the likelihood of extreme weather events increasing, the harms caused by climate change are very real for disabled people across Scotland. More intense storms and floods could be catastrophic for disabled Scots who are less likely to be evacuated safely, more prone to health risks and less likely to have insurance that protects their assets and homes.

Be in no doubt, as disabled people, we want action to address climate change, but it is vital that climate action does not inadvertently create new barriers and exclusion for us.

At the moment policymaking aimed at responding to climate change in Scotland can throw up real conflicts of interest for disabled people.

For example, town centre planning for active travel that emphasises walking and cycling may take little account of those who can do neither, with Blue-badge parking spaces and taxi drop off-points being removed to make way for cycle lanes, with floating bus stops by cycle lanes that are unsafe for people with sensory impairments

Urban planning for low-carbon cities that favours pedestrianisation may result in ‘no go’ zones for disabled people reliant on cars and taxis when public transport is not accessible or suitable for them.

If recycling initiatives, return deposit schemes, low-emission vehicles/charging points for example are not accessible to disabled people they may be financially penalised, or socially stigmatized, if they simply cannot live a ‘greener’ life or participate in these schemes for reasons related to their impairment/s.’

Disabled Scots can face numerous barriers to recycling, re-using, travel via public transport, use of carbon-neutral infrastructure, active travel, making homes energy efficient, protesting about climate change, and getting involved in local decision-making and other relevant issues yet despite international recognition that disabled people may be hardest hit by climate impacts disability issues have received little to no attention from practitioners and policymakers in the context of climate governance in Scotland.

This needs to change and we hope that these reports will be a catalyst for that change. We want to raise the profile of these issues with policymakers influential on this agenda and start to find solutions that work for everybody. After all, it’s our planet too.

Professor Sébastien Jodoin, Director of the Disability-Inclusive Climate Action Research Program, at McGill University, Ontario, who has for many years been a key advocate for disabled people at COPs, says the following about our work:

“Disabled people are on the frontlines of the climate crisis – they are adversely affected both by the impacts of climate change and careless and ableist policies adopted to reduce carbon emissions. All over the world, increasing number of disabled people are speaking out on the climate crisis and demanding an ambitious and inclusive climate action from their governments. The work of Inclusion Scotland is the exactly the sort of advocacy that is needed to raise awareness of the disproportionate impacts of climate change for disabled people and to promote disability-inclusive climate action at the national level.”

It’s Our Planet Too: Climate Change, Disabled People and Climate Action in Scotland Report

By clicking the ‘Download Now’ button below you can read ‘It’s Our Planet Too: Climate Change, Disabled People and Climate Action in Scotland Report (PDF Version)’.

Published: October 19, 2021
Disabled People’s Priorities Ahead of COP 26 Brief

By clicking the ‘Download Now’ button below you can read ‘Disabled People’s Priorities Ahead of COP 26 Brief (PDF Version)’.

Published: October 19, 2021

We all know about climate change. But do you know what it means for disabled people?

Temperatures are rising and there is more extreme weather and flooding. This has an impact on people’s health and on the economy and jobs. This might get worse if temperatures continue to rise.

For every degree that temperatures will cost the Scottish economy 1% of our Gross Domestic Product (this is the value of all the goods and services in Scotland at any one time).

But the impact of climate change is not felt equally.

Disabled people around the world are being hit hard by extreme weather. Bigger wildfires, longer droughts, and more intense storms and floods can be catastrophic for some disabled people, who are already more likely to be living in poverty and face other barriers. They are less likely to have insurance to help them if their home is affected. It may also mean that they are less likely to be evacuated safely and more likely to face health risk.

After a big hurricane in America in 2005 called Hurricane Katrina we learnt that evacuation warnings, shelters and emergency transport were not accessible to disabled people. Many disabled people died in their homes or nursing homes.


85% of disabled people from 137 countries reported in a 2013 UN survey that they have not participated or been consulted in community disaster management processes.

Disabled people need to be part of the Scotland’s decision making too. We think that climate change activists and policy and decision makers are not thinking about disabled people. We call this “eco-ableism”.

To start to change things we have:

  • Gathered disabled people’s lived experiences of climate impacts at a webinar on Climate Change, Disability and Eco-Ableism, and to find out their priorities on this ahead of COP 26
  • Worked with disabled people to think about how the responses to climate change will impact on us
  • Got involved in national and local decision making and participation in climate action, and supported disabled people to do this too
  • Made links with climate change organisations and they agree that disabled people must not be left out
  • Hosted a Solutions Series event called It’s our planet too: Climate change, disabled people and climate action in Scotland’ involving disabled people, climate change activists, academics and decision and policy makers.

Examples of eco-ableism include:

  • Ignoring disabled people in emergency planning – e.g., when designing flood protections or flood evacuations
  • Urban planning for low-carbon cities that discriminates against disabled people who need a car to get about and who find public transport inaccessible
  • Protesting about climate change such as blocking roads as this prevents disabled people getting about and can stigmatise us
  • Banning plastic straws without accepting that some disabled people need them to drink safely and comfortably
  • Promoting active travel without realising that some disabled people cannot walk, wheel or cycle e.g., removing disabled parking bays to make way for cycle lanes.
  • Recycling initiatives that are inaccessible to disabled people in mind, and not providing support and accessible information for disabled people to recycle and play their part.