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  • Writer's pictureHenry Muss

Findings released from UK's first climate citizens assemblies

How the ‘climate assembly’ says the UK should reach net zero

The final membership was selected to be representative of the UK in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, education, rural versus urban, geography and level of concern about climate change. Credit: Fabio De Paola / PA.

In January 2020, more than 100 randomly selected members of the public met in a secret location in Birmingham to begin taking part in the UK’s first “climate assembly”.

Lasting five months, the assembly asked citizens to listen to advice from climate experts before coming up with a list of recommendations for how the country should reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Key findings included a levy for frequent fliers; a ban on the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2030-35; and a switch to a more biodiversity-focused farming system. Also of interest was carbon labelling of goods

Assembly members were asked to consider various policy options for changing individuals’ and retailers’ behaviour. The chart below summarises how the members felt about different policy options, including bans and restrictions, taxes and incentives for low-carbon foods, taxes and incentives for reducing food waste, government contracts for low-carbon food and labelling and information.

A significant opportunity clearly exists for organisations to make the labelling clear on their products. Just as the food industry were encouraged to use a traffic light system for salt, sugar and fat the same could be done for the climate or carbon impact of goods. This has been done previously but not in a comparative way for example oatly non- dairy milk has calculated its carbon footprint per litre of milk but its not that clear (to consumers) how it compares to dairy milk - its actually around three times less carbon per litre.

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