The U.K. is offering 110 people a chance to shape the way the country attempts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The past weekend marked the start of a citizens’ assembly focused on climate, which will meet in the Midlands city of Birmingham on three more weekends over the next two months. The assembly will discuss and debate how the government should meet its legally mandated climate goal, which Parliament set in June 2019. Some experts believe citizens’ assemblies can break the impasse on difficult political issues. In the past, these groups have been used to advance the legalization of abortion in Ireland and discuss complex issues such as funding elderly care in the U.K. Interest in this form of inclusive democracy is growing, with citizens’ assemblies happening in countries such as France and Canada. The process began in November, on the recommendation of six parliamentary committees, with invitations sent to 30,000 randomly chosen people. From among the 1,800 who replied, a computer algorithm chose a representative sample of 110 people, reflecting the country’s make up by age, gender, education, geographic location and views on climate change. Nearly 30% of the group are over the age of 60, and fewer than 5% are “not at all concerned” about climate change.
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