Quaker speaks at Climate Assembly UK

Paul Ekins spoke at the first meeting of Climate Assembly UK

A leading Quaker environmental expert spoke at the first weekend of Climate Assembly UK held in Birmingham last month.

Paul Ekins, OBE-winner and director at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, told the packed room on 25 January that ‘the sooner we start the cheaper it will be… if we wait, it’ll get out of hand and we’ll be in uncharted territory’.

David Attenborough also spoke to the Assembly, which was put in place by the last parliament before it was dissolved ahead of the general election.

Over 100 people, taken from 30,000 randomly selected households across the UK, will meet over four weekends in spring 2020 to hear ‘balanced evidence on the choices the UK faces, discuss them, and make recommendations about what the UK should do to become net zero by 2050’, according to the website.

Quaker climate campaigner Chris Martin told the Friend that the newly-formed Central England Quakers Climate Emergency Action (CEQ CEA) group ‘is planning to follow the proceedings closely, and, in particular, to examine the conclusions and recommendations. We are involved in climate assemblies being held in Wolverhampton in February and Birmingham in March. It is important that Quakers hold national and local government to account in terms of adopting the assemblies’ recommendations, otherwise they just become another “talking shop”.’

Extinction Rebellion (XR) welcomed the Assembly, tweeting that ‘we hope it will recognise the UK has an important leadership role to play and that we need action THIS YEAR to keep within 1.5 according to IPCC’. However, it added that the Climate Assembly ‘does not meet the standards of our 3rd demand. The citizens’ assembly we need will look at decarbonising the UK by 2025 (not 2050) and its recommendations will be binding on government’.

The outcomes of the discussions, which will be held in Birmingham from January to March 2020, will be presented to the six House of Commons select committees that commissioned the Assembly. These are: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Environmental Audit; Treasury; Housing, Communities and Local Government; Science and Technology; and Transport.

The Involve Foundation (‘Involve’), Sortition Foundation and mySociety are running the Assembly on the House of Commons’ behalf.

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