- Citizens' assembly members prove process works but Bill Alliance critical of framework
- Parliament denied experts the opportunity to critique 2050 net zero target
- Bill Alliance grateful for the 8,000 hours citizens dedicated to the report
Thursday 10 September - A report from Climate Assembly UK is published today following a citizens’ assembly that discussed how to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The CEE Bill Alliance team warmly welcomes the Climate Assembly UK report. It demonstrates that participative democracy has been able to address, with unity, the Climate and Ecological Emergency where 30 years of Westminster Governments are demonstrably failing.
This report, outlining the recommendations of the 100+ people involved, rightly calls for big changes in government climate policy with more leadership, education and training. Assembly members were explicit that the transition would require input from everyone but should be clearly led by the UK government with clear strategy and regulation. They felt very strongly (96%) that climate change is a cross-party issue, not a partisan one.
Yet there are blinding omissions in the select committee framing. The 2050 end date is inadequate and has badly skewed the assembly’s very detailed work. The Committee on Climate Change (the government's own advisors) stated that the government’s 2050 net zero target, if replicated across the world, only gives a somewhat ‘greater than 50% chance’ of not entering into runaway climate change. This is worse than flipping a coin.
The CEE Bill Alliance believes the citizens’ assembly should have been told the bigger picture. For example, its remit excluded almost half of UK carbon and GHG emissions by not covering the manufacture and transport of goods and services from other countries.
The CEE Bill Alliance warmly welcomes the commitment and dedication of assembly members and the almost 8,000 hours of work put into the results in this report. Its conclusions such as an emphasis on Natural Climate Solutions to remove GHG emissions from the atmosphere are spot on.
The workings of this citizens’ assembly clearly demonstrates that a people-led, collective approach to problem solving arrives at robust decisions and finds practical solutions to complicated problems. The assembly recommendations are built on fairness for all UK communities and its plan for emissions reductions do not depend on yet to be invented technologies as the Government’s climate plan still worryingly does. However, it is imperative that the remit matches the speed and intensity of the issue being addressed.
This Climate Assembly UK report is a desperately needed first step. This must now be built on by:
- Injecting a much greater urgency
- Ending the “creative accounting” of emissions (so we account for consumption emissions)
- Addressing the biodiversity crisis with the same urgency as the climate crisis
- Incorporating international fairness
Dr. Amy McDonnell, spokesperson for the CEE Bill Alliance said, “Despite the limitations of its remit, the Government must enact the Climate Assembly UK recommendations. Parliament and the public must truly understand the nature and scale of the crisis we face. We must invest in zero carbon technology and infrastructure that can generate hundreds and thousands of new jobs across the country. Above all we need a much stronger strategy and meaningful leadership from the government as the assembly rightly demands. The Climate and Ecological Emergency bill sets out a clear path for creating an emergency strategy with citizens, experts, government and parliament all working together to find our way out of this mess.”
1 Natural Climate Solutions include the conservation of managed forests, restoring peatlands and wetlands, improving the health of soils. The expansive roll out of Natural Climate Solutions, coupled with profound decarbonisation is one of the core principles in the CEE Bill in protecting nature with equal weight to the climate.
2 Current CCC plans for a pathway to net zero set at 2050 require Negative Emissions Technologies to account for ‘33 to 45 MtCO2e of additional emission savings’ (CCC Net Zero, 2019). However, that same report says these technologies are speculative and ‘have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and significant barriers to social acceptability’. By not allowing use of NETs to meet the objectives, the CEE Bill relies only on proven mechanisms to reduce net emissions rather than speculative technologies that may never become practical or safe.
3 The assembly asserted that there could be economic opportunities and recovery by investing in a low carbon future.
Notes to Editors:
For media enquiries about the CEE Bill and to arrange interviews with CEE Bill Alliance spokespeople, contact [email protected]
CEE Bill Alliance spokespeople available for interview:
- Dr Amy McDonnell (Bill architect)
- Anna Hyde (citizens’ assemblies and sustainability)
- Dr. Charlie Gardner (University of Kent, Conservation Science; CEE Bill expert contributor)
About the CEE Bill
The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill has been developed with members of the successful Big Ask campaign that led to the Climate Change Act; Power for People; and members of Extinction Rebellion; with contributions from eminent scientists, academics and lawyers. The campaign for the CEE Bill launched August 2020, with its introduction to Parliament in September 2020.
Even in these early stages, the CEE Bill has received backing from a wide range of supporters from different fields including Kumi Naidoo — International Executive Director of Greenpeace International (from 2009 - 2016) and Secretary General of Amnesty International (from 2018 - 2020); Environmentalist Bill McKibben; Caroline Lucas MP; forerunner in business sustainability 'Volans' and its co-founder John Elkington; as well as actor and playwright Sir David Mark Rylance Waters.
The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill calls for:
- The UK to make and enact a serious plan. This means dealing with our real fair share of emissions so that we don’t go over critical global rises in temperature
- Our entire carbon footprint be taken into account (in the UK and overseas)
- The protection and conservation of nature here and overseas along supply chains, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume
- Those in power not to depend on technology to save the day, which is used as an excuse to carry on polluting as usual
- Ordinary people to have a real say on the way forward in a citizens’ assembly with bite.