We call on Horsham District Council to convene a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change.
Q&A on a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change
Q: What is a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change?
A: A citizens’ assembly brings together people from all walks of life to discuss important issues – in this case climate change. At the assembly, assembly members learn about the issue, take time to discuss it with one another, and then make recommendations about what should happen. (See www.climateassembly.uk)
Q: Who would be on a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change?
A: A common approach to establishing a Citizens' Assembly is to send out a questionnaire and form asking for volunteers to all residents. Participants (usually around 50) would then be selected by an external party looking to reflect the wider population – in terms of demographics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, social class) and sometimes relevant attitudes (e.g. their views on climate change).
Q: What is the current position of the Horsham District Council?
A: At a Conservative Cabinet meeting on Thursday, 9 June, the Cabinet approved - despite Lib Dem objections - a report proposing the creation of a Climate Change Panel of experts to provide external input to the development of a district-wide strategy and plan. This report rejected the option of convening a citizens' assembly on climate change.
Q: What happens next?
A: The current proposal as approved at Cabinet for a 'Climate Change Panel' will be debated at the next Full Council meeting on 22 June 2022.
Q: Why do Horsham Liberal Democrats oppose a 'Climate Change Panel'?
A: Horsham Lib Dems view the 'Climate Change Panel' as a top-down approach, which involves residents too late in the process. The panel, composed solely of experts, will in effect tell the Council, to tell residents what to do, rather than ask residents what we should be doing together, and coming up with solutions as a community.
Q: What would the Horsham Liberal Democrats do differently?
A: Horsham Lib Dems would convene a 'Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change' as soon as possible. The assembly could also include experts as facilitators to take community ideas and develop a plan of action. The Council has the money, what we do not have is time to ignore the Climate Emergency, and our residents desire to address the Climate Emergency, any longer.
Q: What has been done in Horsham so far to address the Climate Emergency?
A: In 2019, Conservatives amended the Horsham Lib Dems motion and Declaration of a Climate Emergency, watering down the motion to state: "We agree that there is a growing public concern in the face of recent dire warnings from the World Scientific community that we are facing a wide range of environmental issues including a climate emergency". This falls short of being recognised as an official declaration by the Southeast Climate Alliance. Since then, the HDC Carbon Reduction Action plan was approved to reduce the Council's own emissions - though these equate to merely 2% of the overall carbon emissions of Horsham District.
Q: What should councils be doing?
A: The Local Government Association (LGA) guidance states councils can influence up to a third of overall emissions in their local area by engaging the community through structures like citizens climate assemblies and partnerships. "By engaging people through structures like citizens’ panels, assemblies and juries, and connecting climate policy to the needs of everyone, councils can demonstrate that the consequences of climate action improves lives." Nearby councils such as Adur & Worthing have already held a successful and engaging Citizen's Assembly on Climate Change.
Signatures collected on this petition will be forwarded to Horsham District Council.
A Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change
I the undersigned call on Horsham District Council to convene a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change to engage residents in the development of the 'District-wide Climate Action Plan'.