This weekend over 100 people from across the country will attend the first citizens’ Climate Assembly UK, commissioned by the House of Commons.
Picked from 30,000 random invitees, the 110 citizens represent a fair sample of the UK population. The citizens’ Climate Assembly UK will give the government an idea of how people think the country should achieve its climate goal to hit net zero emissions by 2050.
Kicking off this weekend, the members will also meet over three more weekends between now and March.
This Saturday, members will hear from a panel of speakers about the nation’s climate challenge. Presentations will be available online as well as live-streamed to the public. Members will then discuss how the UK should change its habits to help achieve its net zero target.
Following the meetings, Assembly members’ collective recommendations on everything from heating to travel will be published in a report. The report will be presented to the UK Parliament in April.
Citizens’ Climate Assembly UK
Assembly Member, Marc, said: “It’s amazing to get the chance to have a say and influence what may happen in the future. I was in the army for 22 years so I’ve not got a problem meeting new people and learning new things, I’m really looking forward to it. I hope Britain can take a leading role with making the changes we need to secure our future.”
Right Honourable Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, comments: “Concern about climate change is as high as ever, and it’s clear we all need to play our part to achieve the net zero emissions target that was passed into UK law by Parliament last year.
“This is why I welcome the work of Climate Assembly UK, a great example of parliamentarians engaging with the public to help influence their work and proposals for action.”
The House of Commons contracted The Involve Foundation, Sortition Foundation and mySociety to run Climate Assembly UK on its behalf. Running costs are split between the House of Commons, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the European Climate Foundation, but they do not have a say over how the Assembly is run.
While skeptics worry the Assembly could be a way to slow down UK climate action, similar assemblies have been successful in other countries.
Following fatal flooding in Gdansk, Poland in 2016, the mayor held a citizens’ assembly of 60 residents. They were tasked with coming up with solutions for extreme weather events. Decisions with over 80% support were enacted in law.
When Gdansk flooded again in 2017, the city was better prepared and the economic and human costs lower. This has since led to assemblies on pollution, civic engagement and LGBT rights. Today, an assembly is guaranteed if more than 5,000 signatures are collected from citizens.
More famously, in Ireland, an assembly made up of 99 randomly chosen people resulted in the referendum which successfully removed the constitutional abortion ban.
With Extinction Rebellion’s third demand calling on the government to be led by an assembly on climate justice, it’s clear the citizens’ Climate Assembly UK could help fast-track the country towards achieving its net zero goal.
We look forward to seeing the results in April. They must spur the government to act on the climate emergency it announced 12 months earlier — and help create a safer future for all citizens.
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