Make combating climate change the top priority

Climate Assembly UK’s final report published on 10 September sets out a clear, internally consistent and timely path for reaching the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. Climate Assembly UK’s report, The Path to Net Zero, shows how a representative sample of the population believe the UK should meet its net zero emissions commitment with detailed recommendations across ten areas including: how we travel; what we eat and how we use the land; what we buy; heat and energy use in the home; how we generate our electricity; and greenhouse gas removals. Parliament agreed in June 2019, to set in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It is against this backdrop that six select committees of the House of Commons decided to commission Climate Assembly UK2 – the first UK-wide citizens’ assembly on climate change. The committees asked the assembly to examine the question: “How should the UK meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?” The committees aim to use the assembly’s results to inform their work in scrutinising government. Climate Assembly UK has 108 members, who together are representative of the UK population in terms of both demographics and their level of concern about climate change. They met as an assembly over six weekends between the end of January and the middle of May 2020. Their report which can be read at: presents their recommendations – assembly members’ detailed and considered views on the path to net zero.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Frequent flyer tax for individuals who fly furthest and most often.
  • Increased government investment in low carbon buses and trains.
  • An early shift to electric vehicles.
  • An urgent ban on selling heavily polluting vehicles such as SUVs.
  • Grants for people to buy low-carbon cars.
  • A reduction in the amount we use cars by 2–5% per decade.
  • Making wind and solar energy a key part of how the UK reaches net zero.
  • Greater reliance on local produce and local food production.
  • A change in diet – driven by education – to reduce meat and dairy consumption by between 20% and 40%.

According to press report, the chairs of the six parliamentary select committees that commissioned the assembly report have written to the prime minister, urging him to ensure that the government acts on the recommendations of Climate Assembly UK by “showing leadership at the very highest level of government” ahead of the UK hosting the COP26 UN climate summit in November 2021.

Meanwhile the latest in WWF’s (World Wildlife Fund) flagship research series, the Living Planet Report, just published, shows that our planet’s wildlife populations have now plummeted by 68% since 1970 and there are no signs that this downward trend is slowing.  You can read more at:

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