XR Lambeth responds to the council’s plans for the Lambeth citizens’ assembly

On 5 July 2019, the council released its response to the climate crisis, which included
the first details of the plans for the Lambeth citizens’ assembly on a Green New Deal.
Extinction Rebellion Lambeth reviewed the plans and has the following response:

Dear Claire Holland,
Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for the Environment and Clean Air

We are living in a climate and ecological crisis that threatens the
foundations of life on earth. Over the past 30 years, politicians have failed to act with
the urgency this existential threat demands. Extinction Rebellion Lambeth was therefore
heartened when the council announced a Lambeth citizens’ assembly on a Green New Deal
for the borough to tackle the climate crisis.
However, having consulted a wide range of experts on citizens’ assemblies, we draw
your attention to the following serious issues with the council’s proposals, drawn from
its recent report:

1. “The scope of the citizens’ assembly will be to look at how the borough as a
whole can reach carbon neutrality”
The assembly’s budget of £85,000 is too small to deliver meaningfully on this
scope. Based on the experience of other citizens’ assemblies, this budget will only allow
for 4-6 days of deliberation – nowhere near the amount of time needed for this citizens’
assembly to reach recommendations on the vast array of topics covered.
The council must provide a budget to match the scope.

2. “Undertake citizens’ assembly: October/November 2019”
Experts have warned us that this is too soon to allow enough preparation for a
successful citizens’ assembly. It fails, for instance, to allow time to assess the
borough’s current carbon footprint – an indispensable piece of information without which
it would be almost impossible for the citizens’ assembly to make meaningful
recommendations. The council recently rejected a motion to assess the carbon impact
even of its own operations, compounding this lack of information.
The council must set a later date for the commencement of its citizens’ assembly,
and commission all the vital information necessary for the assembly to make
fully-informed decisions.

3. “The council will reflect the recommendations arising from the citizens’
Extinction Rebellion Lambeth and the experts who advised us conclude that this is far
too weak a commitment to the assembly’s recommendations.
Working with experts in citizens’ assemblies, the council must agree in advance, in
the most specific of terms, how it will act on the assembly’s recommendations, and
the predetermined threshold of support a recommendation needs to be treated as
binding by the council. ‘Reflection’ is not enough.

Extinction Rebellion Lambeth openly welcomes the council’s decision to hold a citizens’
assembly. Now, in a spirit of cooperation in the face of a threat to all of our futures, we
invite you to meet with both experts on citizens’ assemblies and Extinction Rebellion
Lambeth face-to-face, as a matter of urgency, to find a way to address the above flaws in
your current proposal.

We believe that working together, we can plan a citizens’ assembly that will not only
transform democratic engagement in Lambeth, but act as a model for the country, and
indeed the world.

Love and Rage,
Extinction Rebellion Lambeth

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  1. Pingback: Lambeth Council state their intentions – Lambeth Citizens' Assembly

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