Why we held a citizens' assembly on the climate crisis

Climate change is a problem that requires a collective response

Climate change is a problem that requires a collective response

Central and local governments everywhere must facilitate low carbon economies for their citizens right now. We know this - in January 2019 Lambeth Council became the first local authority in London to declare a climate emergency. We committed to a bold target of making the operations of the council carbon neutral by 2030.

The council has begun working on this, for example by switching to green energy, investing in the energy efficiency of council homes, and investing in walking and cycling infrastructure.

However, while the council can provide leadership by reducing its own carbon emissions and use the planning and regulatory powers of local government, we are not able to reduce carbon emissions across the borough as a whole.

Every organisation and person in Lambeth has a part to play

We have a huge task ahead of us. Homes, transport, businesses and other institutions across Lambeth produced over 900 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018. We need to reduce this significantly if we are to play our part in avoiding catastrophic rises in global temperatures. We also need to make sure all of Lambeth's communities can adapt to the impacts of climate change, including increased risk of flooding, heatwaves and air pollution.

We want to have an upfront and honest conversation with residents and businesses about the changes required.

The citizens' assembly developed recommendations for a collective response to the climate crisis

Lambeth is already home to smart, green ways of working and living but we need to widen the conversation. Only then can we build a shared commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral borough.

To develop recommendations for a collective response to the climate crisis, the council funded an independent citizens’ assembly on the climate crisis from 26th May – 3rd July 2021. The Climate Assembly brought together 50 of Lambeth’s residents who were randomly selected and represent of population, with the help of expert organisation, the Sortition Foundation.

Assembly members answered the question: ‘We are facing a climate crisis. How can we work together in Lambeth to address climate change and its causes fairly, effectively and quickly’?

Independent facilitor, Traverse, facilitated online sessions to review the evidence, consider potential initiatives to address the climate emergency, and recommend climate actions that can command broad support.

The assembly was overseen by a Steering Group which includes representatives from organisations across the borough including the Lambeth Youth Council, Brixton BID and Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust. They have helped to make sure the assembly was presented with a range of unbiased evidence and have committed to acting on the set of recommendations for the borough to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero.