Business-as-usual has failed for decades to deliver action. A Citizens’ Assembly giving ordinary people a say would help raise public awareness whilst giving the Government the mandate it needs to tackle difficult decisions quickly.
Some people quote the unsuccessful Canadian assembly, but this took place a decade and a half ago and much has been learned since then. Citizens’ assemblies are now used extensively and very successfully around the world. More info at www.participedia.net. There are hundreds taking place right now in the UK including a new Climate Assembly set up by forward-thinking Conservative-led Devon County Council.
Citizens’ Assemblies have been demonstrated around the world to be a very effective way to find consensus on difficult national challenges. Democracy is more than just a general election every 5 years and we need to be creative and bold in engaging the public to find the answers. You will know that there are many different views on how to tackle climate change so let’s enhance our democracy and find a way forward that can complement the existing policy making mechanisms and restore a bit of trust in our politics. We can probably all agree that our established confrontational political system has not delivered the action needed on climate change over recent decades.
The Canadian Citizens’ Assemblies of 2006 were very poorly publicised and hence the uptake on the subsequent referendum was lower than needed for success. This reflects more on the Canadian Government’s lack of commitment to the process than the worth of the process itself.
Other Citizens’ Assemblies have produced excellent results, particularly the Irish Assembly on Abortion 2018 which broke years of political deadlock, and receiving strong public support. The 2020 French Citizens’ Assembly followed many months of ‘Gilets Jaune’ civil unrest. Many imaginative recommendations were made which are now in the process of being considered to enter law. As long as the Government acts to take the recommendations seriously they have every possibility of producing impactful, long lasting results.
Important note - the Climate & Nature Assembly proposed in the CEE Bill would not in any way circumvent Parliament. MPs would still have the final say over recommendations from the assembly. The bill simply requires that the assembly's recommendations are put before Parliament not swept under the carpet. Parliament would remain sovereign.
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