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The UK’s final climate assembly weekend, has been postponed until further notice due to the Corona Virus outbreak. What does this mean for the UK’s battle against climate change and what have we discovered so far.

The penultimate third meeting of the Climate Assembly UK took place just over a fortnight ago,  as members worked on the conclusions and recommendations that the assembly will put forward to Parliament e.g. how will the UK can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The UK’s legally binding net zero emissions target, requires direct action from Parliament, Government and all areas of society.  The citizens assembly, commissioned by six select committees from the House of Commons, is considering what the UK can do to meet this target.  More than 100 UK representative people, have been meeting in Birmingham to help Parliament understand the public’s preferences about the way forward.

On the first weekend, assembly members met for a full day of presentations and discussions. The assembly heard from a range of speakers on what climate change is, its impacts and the challenges around reducing emissions, setting the foundations for discussion.

The second assembly separated into groups to hear evidence and policy options for reducing emissions in four areas of life: ‘how we travel’, ‘in the home’, ‘what we buy’ and ‘food, farming and land use’.

On the third weekend, the assembly discussed and decided on a range of recommendations, on what the future should look like, on the way to achieve a net zero society and what different policy options would get the UK there.

For each topic, there were three sets of decisions the assembly members reached:

  • First, the assembly will be drafted, discussed and then prioritised considerations they believe Government and Parliament should bear in mind when cutting emissions in different areas of life.
  • Then, the members discussed and vote on various future scenarios which respond to the range of evidence the assembly heard on reducing emissions in four areas of life.
  • Finally, the assembly members discussed and voted on policy options for achieving those changes and ranked them in order of preference.

When a new date is set in stone, the whole assembly will meet together to hear and consider detailed evidence on where our energy comes from and negative emissions technologies. Negative emissions technologies are ways of taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and storing them, so that they cannot contribute to climate change. The assembly will reach its conclusions on these issues, as well as discussing any final recommendations it wishes to make.

All the votes taken by Climate assembly UK will be conducted by a secret ballot. At the end of the voting period, all assembly members will have an opportunity to raise anything else they feel that parliament and the Government should consider to help reduce emissions by 2050.

It would however, be prudent for the assembly to reconsider the impact and implications of future pandemics or global catastrophes on combating climate change.

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