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UK Organizes Citizens’ Assembly to Discuss Climate Action

A cross-party group of UK members of parliament is writing to 30,000 households across the country, inviting them to participate in a citizens’ assembly on climate change.

“Once participants are selected, the assembly will meet next year, with the outcome of their discussions reported back to Parliament,” the BBC reports. Their mission: to “look at what members of the public can do to reduce CO2”.

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“Finding solutions which are equitable and have public support will be crucial,” said economist and Labour MP Rachel Reeves, chair of the House of Commons select committee on business, energy and industrial strategy. “Parliament needs to work with the people and with government to address the challenge of climate change.”

The households invited to participate in Climate Assembly UK were chosen at random. “From those who respond, 110 people will be chosen as a representative sample of the population,” BBC writes. “They will meet over four weekends from late January in Birmingham, and will discuss topics ranging from transport to household energy use.”

Extinction Rebellion, which had demanded a citizens’ assembly in protests over the last year, welcomed the announcement as a first step. However, “waiting 30 years to reach zero net carbon emissions is a death sentence to people around the world and in the UK,” said spokesperson Linda Doyle. “It gives us a higher chance of breaching irreversible tipping points as the climate breaks down, and it only serves short-term ‘business as usual’.”

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth UK, said citizens’ assemblies can be an important part of the policy process, but agreed on the need for speed. “Tackling the climate emergency with the speed required will require radical changes to our economy, infrastructure, and even to society, so it’s important that there is a consensus among citizens,” he told BBC.

“Much of what needs to be done already commands widespread public support, and it is politicians that just need to bloody well get on with it now.”