For a Scottish Climate Citizens’ Assembly to enable rapid, just and democratic decarbonisation

We call on the Scottish Government to establish a Climate Citizens’ Assembly by March 2020, to be briefed on the scientific evidence of the true level of the climate emergency, and to consider and propose a set of policies to tackle the causes of the climate crisis.

These policies must enable the critical economic and social transformations needed to radically accelerate Scotland’s existing plans for a just transition towards becoming carbon neutral, within the timeframe required by the latest science, in order for us to play our part in stopping runaway climate chaos.

Scotland can lead the world in creating a democratic process to show how every country can step up and deal with this crisis in a way which allows future generations to survive and thrive on this planet.


Summary: Why a Climate Citizens’ Assembly for Scotland? Climate Change is an existential threat to humanity. Politicians operate within a short-term electoral cycle which makes it extremely hard for them to take the bold action needed to deal with this threat. We need to enable them to create a different centre of action to powerfully influence and drive forward the needed changes, and so enable Scotland to become an example to the world.

We aim to rapidly build a broad base of support across society to ensure the Scottish Parliament establishes a Climate Citizens Assembly (CCA) for a representative sample of ordinary members of the public to hear evidence of the true nature of the climate crisis, to assess policies to address the cause of the crisis, and to propose these to Parliament and the people so we can collectively commit to carry out the radical changes needed to secure the future for our children.

Citizens’ Assemblies are an established democratic process, bringing together ordinary members of the public, in the form of a representative sample of the population3 to meet, often over a number of weekends, informed by a balance of expert witnesses4, and supported to deliberate fairly and responsibly by expert facilitators, to consider contentious issues of national importance. Their purpose is to study the options available to a city, region or country on certain issues and to deliberate on and propose solutions to them. Citizens’ Assemblies have been used across the world (e.g. by the UK Government and the Irish Government, including the Irish Citizens’ Assembly that led to the referendum that repealed Ireland’s ban on abortion).

A Way Forward? The recommendations of the Assembly would need to be taken forward by securing collective society-wide commitment to them. In Citizens’ Assembly processes, Governments have agreed to implement an Assembly’s recommendations if there is a large enough majority for them in the Assembly, they have set up parliamentary committees to consider their recommendations, or they have been put to the population in a referendum. For this Assembly, given the urgency and importance of the issue, it would be wise to consider an innovative society-wide process that ensures that as many people as possible engage with, and society commits to, the proposed policies to ensure serious collective action can begin in 2020.

Climate Crisis: The October 2018 IPCC Special Report is the most up-to-date and comprehensive explanation of the science of climate change and the future of the Earth2 Their findings suggest that current voluntary pledges from governments put us on course for a 3C to 4C rise in global temperature, which is when tipping points in the global climate system are almost certainly likely to take over, sending us into runaway climate chaos, resulting in anything from the deaths of hundreds of millions of people to human extinction. Bearing in mind that most of the real-world findings over past years have correlated to the IPCC’s ‘worst case scenario’ it is clear that now is the time when we can and must take action.

1. Drafted by XR Scotland 27th March 2019 (Contact: evaschonveld@gmail.com; justinkenrick@yahoo.co.uk). This briefing provides an XR perspective. Organisations and individuals signing the declaration are not necessarily agreeing to everything in the briefing.

2. 91 lead authors and 133 contributing authors, from 40 countries, assessed 30,000 scientific papers and made over 42,000 comments during the review process. Nevertheless the report didn’t take full account of the impact of feedback loops. Emissions continue to rise despite the IPCC calling for dramatic global reductions by 2030.

3. A Citizens Assembly consists of ordinary members of the public chosen using quota sampling to ensure a broadly representative sample of the population (e.g. in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, social class, education).

4. All expert witnesses would declare funding and conflicts of interest as part of an open and transparent process.

Supporting Organisations

Extinction Rebellion Scotland


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