Camden council officials say they intend to implement at least some of the panel’s ideas
Mark Rice-OxleyFri 19 Jul 2019 12.45 BST
Britain’s first climate assembly culminates on Saturday when 56 north Londoners will decide on measures they want their council to enact to confront the climate crisis.
Camden’s Citizens Assembly, convened to interrogate what locals, neighbourhoods and the council can do for the environment, is deliberating action that would reduce fossil fuel usage in homes and public buildings and on roads.
The wishlist will be considered by the council as it draws up an environment action plan for 2020. The outcome of the assembly will be closely watched by other councils planning to follow suit this year, and by Westminster which will hold its own national climate assembly in the autumn.
Council officials say there is a clear intention to implement at least some of the recommendations. “I hope there will be some concrete action that we can take forward as a council,” said Georgia Gould, the council leader. “That’s the idea of it being an open process – you are letting go of that control. Our climate is in a crisis and we need to act in radical new ways and this assembly is part of developing those new ideas.”
Ideas being considered include community energy projects such as solar panels on schools, GP surgeries and public buildings, a revolution in heating buildings that favours air source heat pumps over old-style gas boilers, better insulation and urban greening.
Anti-car measures are also being considered, though motorists produce only 13% of emissions in the district, with the rest generated by energy use in buildings.
“I’m keen that they should ban all cars. They should ban all gas boilers in newbuilds now. They should retrofit old buildings,” said Rupert Cruise, one of the participants.
But the assembly is diverse in age, ethnicity and outlook. Another juror, Neil Chappell, said: “I’m here to defend the motorist. Camden always hammers the motorist but only 10% of emissions is down to cars.”
By the end of Saturday’s deliberations, participants will have spent 12 hours in three separate sessions listening to briefings, asking questions, debating with each other and coming up with solutions.
They were recruited randomly via a street and door-knocking campaign. A shortlist was winnowed down to assure the final composition was demographically (but not necessarily politically) representative. The participants are being paid £150 in vouchers for their time.
Some participants said that although they were keen to do something, they felt the real scope for action lay with the national government. After all, aircraft do not take off in Camden, there are no large power plants, and container ships do not pass through.
“Most people are informed and there is consensus, but people feel that individuals can’t do much,” said Khalil Miah. “It’s up to national government to set the goalposts and the deadlines.”
Others said the process itself was a breath of fresh air, helping to address not just the crisis in the environment but the crisis in democracy too.
“It is absolutely great,” said Merve Öner, a student on the assembly. “It’s a diverse community and it’s delightful to involve them all. I think it should be implemented in lots of other countries.”
First climate assembly in UK draws up wishlist for council action | The Guardian
Camden council officials say they intend to implement at least some of the panel’s ideas Mark Rice-OxleyFri 19 Jul 2019 12.45 BST Britain’s first climate assembly culminates on Saturday when 56 north Londoners will decide on measures they want their council to enact to confront the climate crisis. Camden’s Citizens Assembly, convened to interrogate what… [Read More]