Why are we proposing a Climate Citizens’ Assembly?
We want the Scottish Government to convene and support a Climate Citizens’ Assembly (CCA). To back this, we hope that as many people and organisations in Scotland as possible will sign up to the Declaration stating our aim, to show the Scottish Government the level of support this measure has.
In calling for a CCA, we are offering politicians a way out of a situation where, even if they wanted to take the radical action needed, they are paralysed and unable to act, because their bottom line is that they have to be re-elected, and some of the changes we need to make in order to act in line with the science are seen as a ‘hard sell’ politically – even though they are needed to save livelihoods and lives – and will also usher in a fairer, more satisfying way of life in the longer term. We are offering politicians the chance to hand the task of tackling the climate crisis to a different, but equally democratic body that can take the blame for the decisions that need to be taken.
Impartiality, Legitimacy and Traction: the 3 cornerstones
To be impartial the CCA must be entirely independent of the organisations that are calling for it. It should be composed of randomly selected members of the public, chosen in a way that ensures they are representative of the population. We are trusting that ordinary citizens are the best people to make the decisions needed: ordinary people who are appointed simply to do this one task and have no future re-election to consider.
To be legitimate the CCA needs to be established by government. We hope to persuade them that this is the best way to involve and get the buy-in of the wider population and also to make the difficult decisions needed to deal with the climate emergency.
To have traction, the government need to agree to take the findings and proposals from the CCA seriously and not either ignore them if they don’t like them, nor bury them in committees for years. Once we have agreement on the CCA, we will continue to put pressure on the government to give power to the people on this essential issue.
We are in an emergency:
The CCA can be a bridge from the politically possible to the ecologically necessary, from an action today that might be considered at the very edge of the politically acceptable to the utterly transformative action required if we are to have a tomorrow. XR’s non-violent direct action, along with Greta, the school strikes, Attenborough’s ‘The Truth About Climate Change’, combined with self-evident climate disruptions, have shifted the Overton window: what is considered politically possible.
We want to create a CCA by being positive, by engaging with Government and everyone – from unions to faith groups and all other sectors of society – to build an inclusive broad movement backing the creation of a CCA. If the Government then establishes one, and so enables a move from the rhetoric of a climate emergency to enabling the actions needed to address it, then there will be a broad movement to back the radical changes needed.
Similarly, if the Government refuses to establish a CCA, or only establishes a token body, then by gathering energy behind the Declaration, we will already have begun to build the legitimacy and wider civil movement required to establish an alternative, citizen-led CCA to deliberate and decide on the course of action our society needs to survive.