“We come from all walks of life and all across the UK. We have, between us, many different values, views and experiences. But we have worked together in an atmosphere of respect, co-operation, tolerance and humour to arrive at the considered recommendations in this report.”
Today the final report of the first UK-wide citizens’ assembly on climate change is published, offering a series of recommendations and a strong call to action to Parliament and Government.
Six Select Committees of the House of Commons commissioned the citizens’ assembly to understand public preferences on how the UK should tackle climate change because of the impact these decisions will have on people’s lives. Over six weekends, 108 citizens chosen to reflect the demographics of the UK population, met to discuss how the UK should meet its legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050. The topics they discussed included food and farming, travel, energy, and the things we buy.
CAST Director Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh was selected for the role of Expert Lead, ensuring that Climate Assembly UK was balanced, accurate and comprehensive in terms of its content on climate change, and remained focused on the key decisions facing the UK about how to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Professor Whitmarsh explained:
“This report gives a clear mandate to policy-makers for bold action to tackle climate change. For the first time we have a clear idea of what is important to the public when it comes to reaching net zero, and this includes the importance of public education, fairness for the most vulnerable, government leadership, protecting the natural world, urgent and long-term action, and community engagement.”
Recommendations from the Assembly include:
- Government investment in low carbon buses and trains;
- Quickly stop selling the most polluting vehicles;
- Frequent fliers and those that fly further should pay more;
- Local plans for zero carbon homes and enforcing district heating networks;
- A ban on sales of new gas boilers from 2030 or 2035;
- Labelling food and drink products to show the amount of emissions that come from different foods
- Low carbon farming regulations;
- Taxes and incentives for reducing food waste;
- Individuals repairing and sharing more, and measures to enable product sharing.
At today’s launch event for the report, Assembly member Marc summed up his feelings on the path to net-zero saying “don’t be scared – be bold, aim big”, while another participant, Ibrahim, explained that taking part had offered an opportunity to “self reflect, interact, and feel involved…the experiences I gained from the Assembly weekends were really valuable”
Welcoming the publication of the report, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Darren Jones MP, said:
“This is an extremely important contribution to the debate on how the UK reaches our net zero target and I hope it gives impetus to policy makers to take bold action to reduce our emissions. The range of voices within these pages reflect our population. The fact that assembly members have been able to arrive at clear recommendations whilst respecting each others’ values and experiences sets an example for us all. Participants speak of their learning, how they clarified their views and their respect for each other’s perspectives, even when they didn’t agree. Their voices are front and centre, just as they should be.”
In response to the report’s calls for strong government leadership and cross-party cooperation, the Chairs of the six commissioning Select Committees have written a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to ensure that the Government acts on the recommendations of Climate Assembly UK by “showing leadership at the very highest level of government” ahead of the UK hosting COP26 in November 2021. They have also written to the leaders of the other parties represented at Westminster, highlighting the role opposition party leaders have to play in delivering cross-party consensus on reaching net zero.
CAST researchers attended the Assembly meetings as observers and will share their evaluation of the process in late 2020/ early 2021.