By Helen Steiger
What's going on here?
Last weekend, the first of four ‘citizens’ assemblies’ on climate change was hosted in Birmingham.
What Does This Mean?
What is a Citizens' Assembly?
The assembly is made up of 110 ‘ordinary’ citizens selected to represent a broad spectrum of UK society. With diverse ages, ethnicities, geographies and views regarding the climate emergency, the assembly will offer their opinion on the best way for the UK to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This is the first national citizens’ assembly for the UK, although the concept has been employed in other local government issues and in other countries worldwide.
What will actually be happening in these assemblies?
Why Should We Care?
The Citizens’ Climate Assembly is a genuine attempt to bring public opinion into the political decision-making process - but is it the right approach? Time will tell, but it can’t be the only measure taken to solve our ever worsening climate crisis.
Furthermore, the recommendations made by the assembly aren’t legally binding so there is no guarantee that they will be taken on by the UK government. Some are quite skeptical as to whether the strategy is an effective method of bringing public opinion into UK policy. Citizen assemblies were used in Ireland, but only two recommendations were then implemented by the Irish government, with many more slipping under the radar. However, the assembly did help to overturn Ireland’s abortion ban...proving it can be effective!
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