The climate crisis is a place where politicians fear to tread. Many of them worry that introducing measures that will affect our daily lives will invite electoral retribution. Most find themselves buffeted by special interests defending their privileged positions. While the UK government has established a legal requirement to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change has questioned its capacity to achieve this goal. So, what is to be done? Step forward the UK Climate Assembly. Set up in June 2019 by six parliamentary select committees, the UKCA is a citizens’ assembly that brought together 108 people to learn about the climate crisis, deliberate and make recommendations for how the UK can reach its net zero target by 2050. But particular measures don’t tell the whole story. This is our first insight into the kind of climate action the general public are willing to accept when they have the opportunity to learn and deliberate together. The report shatters the illusion that ordinary people will not accept stronger climate policies and are incapable of making difficult decisions about our collective future. But will it have any impact? The UKCA wasn’t established by the government but it provides cover for ministers to act. Energy secretary Alok Sharma made positive noises at the report’s launch, but the danger is that government simply cherry picks measures that fit its existing position while ignoring more challenging proposals.
The Conversation 18th Sept 2020 read more »