Politics-as-usual can’t fix the climate crisis. Maybe it’s time to try a citizens assemby

This article about setting up a citizens assembly (one of Extinction Rebellions key demands) is interesting. A citizens assembly is a group of people from a wide demographic which is pulled together to answer one or more big policy questions and to make recommendations to government about what action should be taken.

I was going to comment on the article but comments are closed. Here’s my take.

A change in culture is needed to tackle the environmental crisis. The question really is how should this manifest itself? Should it come with a fundamental shift in the way our democratic processes occur, as they are obviously failing us in tackling the climate and ecological crisis, or should it come from everyone leading the change?

It needs to be both. If we are to stop a 1.5 degree rise in temperature we need to halve carbon emissions in the next ten years, otherwise we are likely to witness run away climate change. Everyone needs to understand the issues at stake and what they can do to help. For the Government they need to acknowledge that business as usual won’t make the change. But people also need to acknowledge they can shift the status quo and need to be empowered with the knowledge and support to make that happen.

Many argue that a fundamental shift in culture cannot be achieved but I think that’s because people are tired of being told what to do. Society needs encouragement not command and control. Every group and organisation in society needs champions that shift opinions and provide solutions.

Conversations across society about these issues are already changing. Those who didn’t care now do but there is widespread confusion of what is the right action to take. Halving carbon emissions in the next ten years is possible but it’s going to take us moving away from a consumerist culture. That’s going to take people to re-assess their values as well as their understanding of what is possible for them to have in their lives. Everyone is going to need to strive not for short term rewards but to savoir every wonderful experience around them. In turn that will make our lives more rewarding. We’ll no longer be suffering from a obesity and mental health crisis, we’ll have more time for community, as we’ll use less, our knowledge will be better and relationship will be deeper.

I’m thinking about writing to the writer of this article in response. What do people think about this as a Better Century response?

Tom, I think that it is important to challenge the assumptions made in the media and by government. What we are trying to achieve is a growing voice that forces government’s around the world to act, because their citizens demand action. At the same time citizens need to take individual responsibility as well as demanding that their governments, businesses etc. act responsibly. This is, where I believe, Better Century comes in and bridges the gap. So, in pushing anything to the media, I believe it is important to articulate the role that Better Century is striving to achieve. I think too that individually we can approach the petitioning organisations such as 38 degrees and strive to have climate change and environmental issues pushed higher, in particular in the uncertain situation which might be left should the UK leave the EU without a deal. More of us in the Better Century community should individually be pressing for greater action too from our MPs, local councilors, businesses etc. and sharing on this forum our experiences, successes and failures.

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