Britain’s first climate assembly: can it help fix democracy too? At meeting of randomly selected Londoners there are differing views but a respectful tone. n an airless library in north London, 56 people are trying to help fix not one global crisis but two. There are students and builders, a civil servant, an entrepreneur, a restaurateur, a support worker. There are immigrants and retirees and even a retired immigrant. This is Britain’s first climate assembly, a randomly selected panel of local people convened by the London borough of Camden to consider what can be done to confront the climate emergency. The jurors have been assembled to listen to briefings, pose questions, assess facts, debate and discuss, and then ultimately recommend action to Camden council. The big question before them is what action the district can take to limit global heating and its impact. The hope is that the series of deliberations this summer will have a bearing not just on the climate crisis but on the crisis in democracy too. A national climate assembly is planned for Westminster this autumn and Camden is being closely watched for the dos and don’ts of this relatively new form of public engagement.
Guardian 19th July 2019 read more »
Britain’s first climate “citizens assembly” opened its final session on Saturday morning at which more than 50 Londoners will decide on carbon-cutting measures they want their district to enact in order to confront climate change. Camden’s Citizens Assembly, convened to interrogate what locals, neighbourhoods and the council can do for the environment, is deliberating action that would reduce fossil fuel usage in homes and public buildings and on roads. The wishlist will be considered by the council as it draws up an environment action plan for 2020. The outcome of the assembly will be closely watched by other councils planning to follow suit this year, and by Westminster which will hold its own national climate assembly in the autumn. Council officials say there is a clear intention to implement at least some of the recommendations. “I hope there will be some concrete action that we can take forward as a council,” said Georgia Gould, the council leader. “That’s the idea of it being an open process – you are letting go of that control. Our climate is in a crisis and we need to act in radical new ways and this assembly is part of developing those new ideas.” Ideas being considered include community energy projects such as solar panels on schools, GP surgeries and public buildings, a revolution in heating buildings that favours air source heat pumps over old-style gas boilers, better insulation and urban greening.
Guardian 19th July 2019 read more »
Dominic Lawson: Politicians and the police must stop indulging Extinction Rebellion. What is it that Extinction Rebellion is saying? That unless parliament ensures that the country’s carbon emissions are net zero by 2025, there will be a mass extinction of all life forms on the planet within the lifetimes of the demonstrators themselves. This is why so many of them — such as their spiritual leader, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg — say they will not be able to have children themselves unless this is done, now. The same message is promulgated in America by the 29-year-old New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, to the acclaim of her supporters, if not the American people, declares: “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Such claims are having the desired effect of terrifying children into supporting the aims of Extinction Rebellion: Thunberg is one of those children, albeit an exceptionally articulate one. But assertions that we are already seeing a mass extinction from climate change, and the prophecies of imminent apocalypse, are a form of mass hysteria. Although their propagators like to assert that “this is the science”, the latest assessments of the International Panel on Climate Change say nothing of the sort. Its fifth report pronounces: “Overall, there is very low confidence that observed species extinctions can be attributed to recent climate warming, owing to the very low fraction of global extinctions that have been ascribed to climate change and tenuous nature of most attributions.”