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Explainer – An Overview of Climate Assemblies

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

Governments and authorities on a national and local scale are waking up to the threat of the climate crisis. In May 2019, the UK became the first country to declare a climate and environmental emergency. The UK is also hosting the COP26 climate conference for the first time, in November 2021. On a regional and local level, it’s estimated that around 300 councils in the UK have also declared a climate emergency. As such, there is growing impetus for action, but what form should this take and who ultimately decides what the transition will look like?

To help answer this question, many local and national governments have commissioned citizens’ assemblies. In the case of the climate change, these assemblies are often referred to as climate assemblies. In the UK, at least 22 local climate assemblies have been planned or completed. Around the world, at least eight national climate assemblies have been planned or completed. They typically involve a small number of people from the area in question, who are selected through sortition. These members attend an assembly, where experts and advisors explain the issue and provide some context. The members take onboard the information and then discuss potential solutions which are voted on for adoption. At the end of the assembly, a report is written up and this is presented to the government or authority for use in shaping their climate action plans.

These citizens’ assemblies have numerous benefits. They enable citizens to have a say in how issues are addressed, and the recommendations arrived at are representative of what the community would like to see. Climate assemblies have changed opinions and behaviours of members who take part, as a finding in a 2021 report by CAST explains, “Citizens participating in climate deliberation tended to become more concerned and engaged about climate change throughout the process. They also tended to conclude in favour of creating significant behavioural and social changes, such as reducing flying and meat consumption.” This was evident in the great documentary The People vs Climate Change (currently available on BBC iPlayer in the UK). Documentaries like this also hold a lot of power, as they show how people come to understand the threat that climate change poses. In doing so, it may help others with little knowledge of the crisis learn more about it, and the solutions that are available.

Politicians may be afraid of tackling a difficult issue especially if it involves taking tough decisions that they feel may be unpopular (and thereby jeopardise their chances of re-election). But if these politicians receive a mandate, in the form of a report from a citizens’ assembly, they therefore have the social licence and the political capital to act. Some climate assembly reports have directly asked politicians to be brave and to implement the recommendations. Such is the urgent nature of the crisis we find ourselves in.

While the results of climate assemblies and not legally enforceable, there has been at least one case where a Mayor said that if over a certain percentage of members voted for a recommendation, then he would look to implement it. Where one authority leads, others will hopefully follow. If that happens, we could be looking at a revolutionary new form of democratic participation, which is non-partisan in nature and reduces the risk of politics getting in the way of action on urgent issues such as the climate emergency.

This post is structured as follows:

  • Part 1 – explains what citizens’ assemblies are
  • Part 2 – looks at local and national climate assemblies in the UK and around the world
  • Part 3 – provides an in-depth overview of the UK’s climate assembly
  • Part 4 – briefly covers plans for a global climate assembly
  • Part 5 – lists resources for anyone looking to learn more, or host their own climate assemblies

PART 1 – CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES

What is a climate assembly?

A climate assembly is a form of citizens’ assembly. These bring members of the public together to discuss a specific issue. In the case of climate assemblies, the focus is specifically on climate change. Assemblies involve:

  • Introducing people to the issue at hand, often with contributions from leading experts
  • Discussing the issue with each other
  • Creating recommendations about actions to address the issue

When did citizens’ assemblies first start being used?

According to Climate Assembly UK, the first citizens’ assembly was arranged in 2004 in Canada. That assembly looked at whether British Columbia should change its voting system. Since then, citizens’ assemblies have been adopted by countries all over the world. These have taken place at both local and national levels in countries including Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, UK and the United States.

Have citizens’ assemblies been used in the UK?

A number of citizens’ assemblies have taken place at a national and local level in the UK. Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Climate change
  • Air quality
  • Social care
  • The future of town centres
  • Long-term funding for adult social care

One of the most notable citizens’ assemblies in the UK, was the national climate assembly which took place in 2020 (see Part 3).

Is there a list of citizens’ assemblies that have taken place in the UK?

Involve has produced a citizen’s assembly/jury tracker for the UK. This can be viewed here.

How long does a citizens’ assembly usually last?

According to Climate Assembly UK, citizens’ assemblies usually span at least two weekends, but can last longer. The timeframe and way assemblies have been held, has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with many turning to virtual sessions.

How are people selected for a citizens’ assembly?

Many assemblies use a process known as sortition or a citizens’ lottery to select individuals. Organisations like the Sortition Foundation have been involved in the process for many citizens’ assemblies to date.

A predetermined number of people is decided upon. That number of people are then randomly contacted to see if they wish to participate. From those that respond, a number (usually between 50 and 250 people) are selected to take part in the assembly.

Who is invited to a citizens’ assembly?

A cross-section of society is chosen to reflect the make-up of the population. This means that people are selected in terms of age, ethnicity, gender, social class and possibly also their attitude towards the issue being discussed.

How many people are invited to a citizens’ assembly?

At least 40 people are usually invited, but the number is commonly between 50 and 250 people.

How are citizens’ assemblies facilitated?

Independent facilitators are present to make sure everyone is able to contribute and that their opinions are noted. Members of the public will hear from specialists in the field, including scientists, campaigners and other stakeholders, with the idea of presenting a balanced overview with which they can form their own opinions and suggestions.

What happens at the end of an assembly?

After everyone has had the chance to discuss their ideas and/or vote, a report is written with recommendations for how to tackle the issue and this is presented to decision-makers. The hope is that politicians act upon the report as it represents a balanced view of what the public would like to see happen.

What is a citizens’ jury?

Citizen’s juries are similar to citizens’ assemblies, but are smaller in scale and have been compared to juries who sit in criminal trials. They comprise 12 members of the public (but this number can be higher). Similar to a standard trial, they hear evidence about an issue, discuss it together and then put forward suggestions.

PART 2 – LOCAL AND NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSEMBLIES

Why do climate assemblies take place?

Climate assemblies take place to aid decision-makers with solutions that should be implemented to tackle the climate crisis. The climate emergency is one of the largest and most urgent issues that we’ve ever faced. As such, largescale changes will need to happen to address the magnitude of the crisis. Some of these will involve making difficult but necessary decisions that will affect the way we live our lives.

By bringing together members of the public who represent the community or society as a whole, people are able to hear the evidence, discuss the solutions available and come up with suggestions. These suggestions are written up in a report and can guide policy decisions. They also provide impetus and social licence for change, which politicians may otherwise be reluctant to make for fear of upsetting their electorate and damaging their re-election bids.

How many people take part in an assembly, jury or inquiry?

Usually between 50 and 250 people participate in a climate assembly. However, these numbers can vary based on the scale the assembly is being held at. A climate jury is smaller in scale and may have 12-16 members. While the scope of a climate inquiry is in-between a jury and assembly, and this is reflected in the number of participants.

Where have climate change assemblies taken place to date?

Climate assemblies have taken place at local and national levels around the world. Some example of local climate assemblies and juries in the UK include:

  • Adur and Worthing climate assembly – 43 residents participated in the assembly between September and December 2020. They were tasked with answering the questions
    • “How can we in Adur and Worthing collectively tackle climate change and support our places to thrive?”
    • “What does this mean for the way we live and for our local environment?”

The assembly produced recommendations on green spaces and biodiversity, information and education, green finance and energy, planning, transport, waste reduction and recycling. The recommendations are listed in the climate assembly’s final report.

  • Birmingham City Council climate assembly – After declaring a climate emergency in June 2019, a taskforce was established to help the city become net zero by 2030. This taskforce has now been disbanded and replaced by a climate assembly that meets three times each year in February, June and October. Each meeting lasts for around two hours and is open to everyone. The meetings are focused around key areas including: “housing retrofit, waste, transport, new build housing, EV charging, energy, the natural environment.” The first of these assemblies took place in June 2021 and can be viewed here.
  • Blackpool climate assembly – 40 people were selected to participate in the assembly. It took place over four sessions in January and February 2021. The assembly provided recommendations on eight key issues including clean energy, transport, homes, reducing waste, education and awareness, community action, influencing national government and biodiversity. Crucially, the assembly said, “Blackpool should be bold and ambitious in its response to the climate emergency, and that the Council should act as an example for other Councils who face similar problems.”
  • Blaenau Gwent climate assembly – This is believed to be one of the first climate assemblies to have taken place in Wales, in March 2021. 50 people participated in the online sessions, and addressed the question of, “What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?” The recommendations covered housing retrofits and newbuilds, nature and green space, transport, education, waste and recycling, communication and poverty.
  • Brent climate assembly – 50 members of the public were selected to participate in an assembly that took place in November and December 2019. As young people have been responsible for increasing awareness about the climate emergency, 16 and 17 year olds were also invited to participate in the assembly. The assembly focused on the following question: “How can we work together to limit climate change and its impact while protecting our environment, our health and our wellbeing? Consider the Council, businesses and organisations, individuals.” The top ten recommendations put forward by the assembly included supporting public transport use, improving insulation and cladding, incentivising energy efficiency and ensuring that progress continues to be made, regardless of who is in power.
  • Brighton & Hove climate assembly – Approximately 50 residents were invited to participate in the assembly, which took place over five sessions between September and November 2020. Emissions from transport account for one third of all emissions in Brighton & Hove. As such, the focus of the climate assembly was on, “How can we step up actions to reduce transport related carbon emissions in the city?” At the end of the assembly ten recommendations were put forward, including a car-free city centre, more affordable public transport, park-and-ride facilities and priority for cyclists over cars.
  • Camden Council – This was the first climate assembly to take place in the UK. 50 members of the public were invited to participate over three sessions in July 2019. They were asked to address the following question: “We are now facing a climate and ecological crisis. How can the council and the people of Camden help limit the impact of climate change while protecting and enhancing our natural environment? – What do we need to do in our homes, neighbourhoods, council and country?” They came up with 17 recommendations that span homes, neighbourhoods and the borough of Camden as a whole. Some of these included making all new homes carbon zero, installing solar panels on as many roofs as possible, planting trees and establishing a climate emergency scrutiny panels of experts and residents. In The Lonely Century, Noreena Hertz, notes that, “Their recommendations will become the backbone of the council’s 2020 Climate Action Plan.”
  • Devon climate assembly – Scheduled to take place in summer 2021. Around 14,000 invitations were sent out to households throughout Devon in May 2021. From the responses received, around 70 people will be selected to participate in the climate assembly.
  • Glasgow climate assembly – ahead of COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, a climate assembly is being planned in the city for August 2021.
  • Hackney climate assembly – the Mayor of Hackney has pledged that plans for a climate assembly will be developed during summer 2021.
  • Jersey’s citizens’ climate assembly – In February 2021, 9,000 households were contacted with an invitation to participate. From those who responded, 45 islanders were randomly chosen for the assembly, which involved 15 virtual meetings between March and May 2021. They were tasked with answering the question, “How should we work together to become carbon neutral?” The assembly voted that Jersey should become carbon neutral by 2030. To achieve this goal, they produced recommendations on transport and heating, cooling and cooking. The full climate change assembly report can be viewed here.
  • Kendal citizens’ climate change jury – 20 people from the town were selected to participate between July and October 2020. Over ten sessions spanning 26 hours, the jury discussed the question, “What should Kendal do about Climate Change?” At the end of the assembly, the jury voted on a range of recommendations spanning food and farming, housing and energy, promoting action and raising awareness, transport and other actions. These can be found in the final report.
  • Lambeth’s citizen’s climate assembly – Taking place between May and July 2021. 50 residents were selected to participate in the assembly. They’ll be answering the question, “We are facing a climate emergency. How can we work together in Lambeth to address climate change and its causes fairly, effectively and quickly?”
  • Lancaster district climate change people’s jury – 30 people were selected for the jury, which took place from February 2020 to September 2020. The jury was tasked with considering the question, “What do we need to do in our homes, neighbourhoods and district to respond to the emergency of climate change?” The jury voted on 25 recommendations. The two recommendations receiving the highest votes were:
    • “Local schools must educate young people about climate change / emission reduction.”
    • “The council should frame all of their work in the context of the climate emergency, and act accordingly as it has done in response to COVID 19. There must be a stronger recognition of the problem at government level.”
  • Leeds citizens’ climate jury – 25 people were selected for the jury, which ran between September and November 2019. Over the course of 8 weeks, the jury met for 30 hours discussing the question, “What should Leeds do about the emergency of climate change?” The top three recommendations were around transport, housing and communication.
  • Leicester climate assembly – Both adult and youth climate assemblies took place in Leicester in 2020. While this section will focus on the adult climate assembly, the results of the youth climate assembly can be viewed here. 50 people participated in the first climate assembly, which took place in January 2020. The assembly sought to assess the proposed vision and actions proposed by the council for acting on the climate crisis. The final report of their views can be found here.
  • Newham citizens’ climate assembly – 36 residents joined the climate assembly, which took place over more than 25 hours in February 2020. Their role was to formulate a response to the question, “How can the council and residents work together to reach the aspiration of being carbon zero by 2050 at the latest?” The assembly produced recommendations on six themes including education, technology and energy, transport and travel, food and recycling, environment and outdoor space, buildings and houses.
  • Nottingham climate assembly – this is not affiliated with the council, but is being set-up by an independent group, who hope to hold a climate assembly. More information is available on their site.
  • North of Tyne citizens’ climate assembly – 50 people were selected to take part in the assembly, which ran from February to March 2021. The eight sessions spanned a total of 30 hours. During this time, they focused on the question, “What should we do in the region to address climate change and its causes fairly, effectively and quickly?” Some of the recommendations included a public education strategy, apprenticeships in renewable energy, a public transport system that is subsidised so that it’s free, and a shift to community energy systems. More information is available in the final assembly report.
  • Oxford City Council climate assembly – 50 members of the public were invited to participate in September and October 2019. This was the first city climate assembly to take place in the UK. The report from the assembly said that members felt the UK needed to achieve net zero emissions before 2050, and felt that Oxford should be a leader in addressing the climate crisis. As a result of the findings, Oxford City Council committed an extra £18 million of capital investment towards addressing the climate emergency and pledged to become a net zero council in 2020.
  • Warwick District people’s climate change inquiry – Warwick held an inquiry to help shape their climate change action plan. As their final report states, “This  ‘People’s  Inquiry’  is  the  same  as  a  Citizens’  Jury  and  is  smaller  in  size  than  a  Citizens’ Assembly.” 30 people participated in the inquiry, which ran for three months between November 2020 and February 2021. They were asked to consider the question, “What do we need to do in the Warwick district to help address climate change by 2030?” The top three recommendations out of the 36 discussed were focused on encouraging more people to cycle, ensuring new houses are carbon neutral, and delivering a communications campaign to encourage people to take action.
  • Wolverhampton climate assembly – The mini-assembly comprised of 16 citizens (8 men and 8 women) took place over three sessions in February 2020. Members reviewed the council’s ambitions for tackling the climate crisis, and also put forward their principles for tackling the climate crisis. These can be found in the assembly report.

Local climate assemblies have also taken place, or are scheduled to take place, in:

  • Budapest, Hungary – 50 people were selected to take part in the assembly, which ran over two weekends in September 2020. They looked at the question of, “How should Budapest tackle the climate emergency?” The assembly put forward eight recommendations, which included finance for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, increasing green space in the city, improving public transport and cancelling projects that damage the climate. According to an interview with Éva Bördős, “The city’s climate strategy was eventually adopted in February 2021 and what we see is that the recommendations of the assembly are indeed more or less reflected in the document.”
  • Krakow and Poznan, Poland – assemblies are being held on climate change, and forest/climate change/coal phase-out respectively.
  • Miskolc, Hungary – This climate assembly is currently in planning by the NGO DemNet, as a result of funding from the European Climate Foundation.
  • Washington, USA – Washington became the first state in the US to hold a climate assembly. It took place online between January and March 2021, and was attended by 80 people. They were tasked with answering the question, “How can Washington State equitably design and implement climate mitigation strategies while strengthening communities disproportionately impacted by climate change across the state?” The list of recommendations spanned transportation, buildings, energy, natural solutions, circular economies, social policies, education & communication and governance.

According to Buergerrat, local climate assemblies scheduled to take place in Germany include Augsburg, Berlin, Bonn, Denzlingen, Mannheim and Offenburg. Buergerrat also lists local climate assemblies taking place worldwide, in countries including Austria, Belgium, France and Switzerland.

Some national climate assemblies include:

  • Denmark’s climate assembly – Denmark passed a Climate Change Act in June 2020, which sets the target of reducing emissions by 70% by 2030. The climate assembly was therefore commissioned to help advise politicians on how to achieve this target. 99 citizens were selected for the assembly, which took place between October 2020 and March 2021. Groups of 5-6 members of the assembly tackled topics such as electric vehicles, and engagement about the climate crisis. From the 100 topics that were available, the assembly narrowed them down to 19 to focus on. The result of the assembly was put forward to the Danish parliament for consideration.
  • Finland’s citizens’ climate jury – 33 people were involved in the jury, which took place in April 2021. Around 14 measures were under consideration and the results of the jury will be presented to Parliament in autumn 2021. A report of the findings, will also be made public in summer 2021.
  • France’s Convention Citoyenne pour le Climate – 150 people were selected to take part in the assembly, which took place from October 2019 to June 2020. Their goal was to find solutions to the question of, “How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, in a spirit of social justice?” The proposals reached by the assembly were centred around the themes of consumerism, transportation, housing, food, business and work, constitution and governance, and financing the climate transition. Interestingly, 99% of members were in favour of criminalising ecocide. A report from France’s climate assembly can be read here.
  • Germany’s climate assembly – In 2019, the Bundestag passed a climate protection law to help meet the Paris Climate Agreement target of preventing a 1.5C rise in global temperatures. To support this law, a climate assembly was convened comprised of 160 members of the public. Between April and June 2021, 50 hours were spent discussing the primary question, “How can Germany achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – considering social, economic and ecological perspectives?” Some of the recommendations and guiding principles included:
    • “The 1.5 degree target has top priority.”
    • “Climate protection serves the common good and has priority over individual interests.”
    • “Transparency & information must be guaranteed for every action that has an impact on the climate.”
    • “The climate transition must be globally just.”

Full recommendations can be viewed here.

  • Ireland’s citizens’ assembly on climate change – The assembly was comprised of 100 members, including one chairperson and 99 members of the public. The assembly took place over two weekends in September/October and November 2016, lasting for 26 hours. It considered the question of, “How the state can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change.” 100% of the participants agreed on recommendations for Ireland to take a leadership role in addressing the climate crisis, as well as ensuring community ownership of all future renewable energy projects. The full set of recommendations can be found in the final report here.
  • UK’s climate assembly – this will be covered in Part 3.
  • Scotland’s climate assembly – Scotland passed a Climate Change Act in 2019, which paved the way for their citizen’s climate assembly. Around 20,000 invitations to participate were sent out to households in Scotland. From those, 105 people were selected to participate and were representative of the population. They were asked to answer the question, “How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?” The assembly took place online (due to COVID-19) for seven weekends between November 2020 and March 2021. Following on from the assembly, a report was produced with 16 goals and 81 recommendations. The scope of these goals and recommendations covers resources, building quality, retrofitting homes, standards and regulation, public transport, travel emissions, carbon labelling, education, land-use, communities, the circular economy, work and volunteering, business and taxation. The full climate assembly report can be accessed here.
  • Spain’s climate assembly – This is currently scheduled to take place in Autumn 2021. At that point, 100 people are set to discuss the question, “A safer Spain in the face of climate change – how do we do it?”

What is the Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies (KNOCA)?

KNOCA is a European resource network, seeking to provide information that is practical, accessible, impactful and of academic quality about climate assemblies. More information is available on the Climate Outreach site.

PART 3 – THE UK CLIMATE ASSEMBLY

What was the purpose of the UK’s climate assembly?

The UK passed a law in June 2019 to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In order to achieve this, a number of actions will need to be taken that will affect the way we live.

The purpose of the climate assembly was to get the public’s opinion on how we should tackle the climate crisis, including the impact of any actions on people’s lives. The members were asked to address the question of, “How should the UK meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?”

Who commissioned the UK’s climate assembly?

The UK’s climate assembly by commissioned by six Select Committees from the House of Commons (including Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Environmental Audit, Housing, Communities and Local Government, Science and Technology, Transport, and the Treasury).

Was the UK’s climate assembly one of Extinction Rebellion’s demands?

The Guardian states that the climate assembly was the second out of three of Extinction Rebellion’s demands to have been met. Extinction Rebellion’s three demands are:

  • Tell the truth and declare a climate emergency
  • Act now to achieve net zero by 2025
  • Go beyond politics and set-up a citizen’s assembly on climate change and ecological justice.

When did the UK’s climate assembly take place?

The assembly took place between January and May 2020, over the course of six weekends. A final report was published in September 2020.

Where did the assembly take place?

The sessions took place in Birmingham between January and March 2020. After which, they moved online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How were people invited to the UK’s climate change assembly?

30,000 letters were sent out to members of the public with invitations to be part of the assembly. After which, around 2,000 people responded saying they’d like to be considered. From those responses, 108 people were selected to take part. The process was undertaken by the Sortition Foundation, who conducted what’s known as sortition (or a ‘civic lottery’) to select the members. According to the Climate Assembly UK website, “Sortition is recognised internationally as the gold standard method for recruiting citizens’ assembly members.” Further information on selection can be found here.

How many people attended the UK’s climate assembly?

108 members took part in the UK’s climate assembly. They were aged from 16 to 79 years old, and representative of the population in regards to age, concern about climate change, educational level, ethnicity and their location (including whether they lived in a rural or urban area).

How much did it cost to run the assembly?

It cost £520,000 to run the UK’s climate assembly. The source of the funding was as follows:

  • House of Commons – £120,000.
  • The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation – £200,000
  • European Climate Foundation’s UK programme – £200,000

Which experts took part in the assembly?

David Attenborough was one of the most prominent speakers at the assembly. The expert leads were comprised of:

  • Chris Stark (Committee on Climate Change)
  • Professor Jim Watson (UCL)
  • Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh (University of Bath)
  • Professor Rebecca Willis (University of Lancaster)

The academic panel reviewed briefings that were provided to assembly members. The panel was comprised of:

  • Professor Jillian Anable (University of Leeds)
  • Professor John Barrett (University of Leeds)
  • Professor John Barry (Queen’s University Belfast)
  • Professor Jason Chilvers (UEA)
  • Professor Nick Eyre (University of Oxford)
  • Dr Clair Gough (University of Manchester)
  • Dr Rosie Green (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
  • Dr Jo House (University of Bristol)
  • Professor Tahseen Jafry (Glasgow Caledonian University)
  • Professor Carly McLachlan (University of Manchester)
  • Professor Dale Southerton (University of Bristol)
  • Professor Benjamin Sovacool (University of Sussex)

The advisory panel provided guidance on the accuracy of information in regards to how the UK could achieve net zero by 2050. The panel included:

  • Fernanda Balata (New Economics Foundation)
  • Tanisha Beebee (Confederation of British Industry (CBI))
  • Patrick Begg – (National Trust)
  • Allen Creedy – (Federation of Small Businesses (FSB))
  • Audrey Gallacher – (Energy UK)
  • Professor Michael Grubb – (University College London (UCL) Institute for Sustainable Resources)
  • Eamonn Ives (Centre for Policy Studies)
  • Ann Jones (National Federation of Women’s Institutes)
  • Ceris Jones – (National Farmers Union (NFU))
  • Chaitanya Kumar – (Green Alliance)
  • Kirsten Leggatt – (2050 Climate Group)
  • Matthew Lesh – (Adam Smith Institute)
  • Nick Molho – (Aldersgate Group)
  • Luke Murphy – (Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR))
  • Tim Page – (Trades Union Congress (TUC))
  • Doug Parr – (Greenpeace)
  • Dr Alan Renwick – (Constitution Unit, University College London (UCL))
  • Dhara Vyas – (Citizens’ Advice)
  • Rebecca Williams – (RenewableUK)

What was the result of the UK’s climate assembly?

The Guardian has listed some of the key recommendations here. The members agreed 25 principles to help achieve the target of net zero by 2050. In order of priority, they included:

  1. Informing and educating everyone (the public, industry, individuals and government)
  2. Fairness within the UK, including for the most vulnerable (affordability, jobs, UK regions, incentives and rewards) in actions, not just words
  3. Leadership from government that is clear, proactive, accountable and consistent
  4. Protecting and restoring the natural world
  5. Ensuring solutions are future-proofed and sustainable for the future
  6. A joined-up approach across the system and all levels of society (working together, collaborating, sharing)
  7. Long-term planning and a phased transition
  8. Urgency
  9. Support for sustainable growth (including pioneering innovation)
  10. Local community engagement embedded in national solutions
  11. Think about our impact globally and be a global leader
  12. Use of mix of natural and technological solutions
  13. Transparency and honesty
  14. Underpinned by scientific evidence and focused on the big wins
  15. Equality of responsibility for individuals, government and business
  16. Achievable
  17. Everyone should have a voice (e.g. via local representation and participation, or in holding government to account)
  18. Regular independent checks on progress
  19. Fairness for the most vulnerable globally  (less developed countries)
  20. Making the most of potential benefits for everyone (e.g. health, wellbeing and the economy)
  21. Enabling and not restricting individual choice
  22. Protect the UK economy, including from global competition
  23. Compromise about changing lifestyles
  24. Those who bear the most responsibility should act
  25. Not negatively impacting other institutions

Additional considerations were put forward for transport, air travel, homes, food and land use, consumerism, electricity generation and greenhouse gas removal.

Is the government obliged to put the recommendations into action?

The government is not legally obliged to put their recommendations into action. However, the report provides the impetus and social mandate to enable the government to start making these changes.

Where can I watch a documentary of the UK’s Climate Assembly?

The BBC aired a documentary on the UK Climate Assembly, which is available on BBC iPlayer. The documentary is called The People vs Climate Change.

PART 4 – THE GLOBAL CLIMATE ASSEMBLY

Climate assemblies are usually initiated in a top-down format (i.e. they are created by governments or local authorities, for citizens to take part in). The global assembly is different because it has been designed by social movements, climate scientists, citizens and institutions. 200 people from across the world helped design the assembly.

Initially 100 people who are representative of the global population, will take part in an assembly in 2021. Their recommendations will be fed into COP26, being held in Glasgow in November 2021. The lessons learned from the 2021 assembly will enable a more comprehensive methodology to be developed for an assembly to take place in 2022, and this will be attended by 1,000 members.

The purpose of the assembly is, “To accelerate action to address the climate and ecological emergency in ways that citizens see fit.”

The global assembly has three primary objectives:

  • “Support a group of globally representative citizens to make recommendations to COP26 and get an official response from the UN’s COP26 process (i.e. the core assembly)
  • Support a global conversation to explore the scale of the climate emergency and how to effectively respond through distributed events to mirror and amplify the core assembly process (i.e. community level events)
  • Support large numbers of people and organisations globally to take action on the climate emergency.”

Depending on factors including funding, the assembly may take place from September – November 2021. A summary of the process can be viewed here.

PART 5 – USEFUL RESOURCES

My debut children’s picture book, Hedgey-A and the Honey Bees, follows the story of a hedgehog who tries to save the bees from pesticide pollution. If you live in the UK, you can purchase a copy from an independent bookstore online here. If you live outside the UK, copies are available from global Amazon stores.

Published inThe Climate Crisis