The first citizens’ assembly on climate change has called for tough action including limiting the growth of car and plane travel and ending the sale of the most polluting vehicles.
The Assembly called for a reduction in the amount we use cars by an average of 2–5% per decade.
It also rejected air travel growth projections of as much as 65% between 2018 and 2050 as ‘counterproductive’, and said growth in air passenger numbers should be limited to 25–50% between 2018 and 2050, depending on how quickly technology progresses.
The Assembly, which was set up by the Government, also called for a ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2030–2035, and for government to ‘quickly stop’ the selling of ‘the most polluting vehicles’.
It also called for a ban on polluting private jets and helicopters and for the cost of aviation to be ‘evened out’ compared to alternatives, with members suggesting the airline industry should pay for more greenhouse gas removal.
In June 2019, the UK Government and Parliament agreed that the UK should do more to tackle climate change. They passed a law committing the UK to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
As part of this effort, the Government also helped establish Climate Assembly UK to represent the general public in the debate over how best to achieve these goals.
In their joint foreword to the report, Darren Jones MP chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and Mel Stride MP chair of the Treasury Committee, write: ‘The voice of Climate Assembly UK is important because it is unique: a body whose composition mirrors that of the UK population.
‘People from all walks of life taking the time to inform themselves on complex issues, discussing the topics with experts and each other, and reaching conclusions. On behalf of the six select committees that established Climate Assembly UK, we want to express our gratitude to all the 108 assembly members who gave up their time to take part.’
Expert leads, including top academics, who supported the Assembly’s work also state: ‘Transformation will not only be achieved through ramping up investment in technologies such as electric cars, offshore wind farms and home insulation.
‘Citizens also have a crucial role to play. The way we live our lives, what we buy, how we travel and what we eat will all have an influence. So it is essential to work with citizens to make sure their views are heard, and develop strategies that fit with people’s lives and aspirations.’
Assembly members also called for more taxes on frequent fliers and those who fly longer distances, more public transport routes and for local authorities to create zero carbon homes plans and to have the flexibility to choose ‘solutions suited to their local areas’.
Members also called for ‘an independent neutral body that monitors and ensures progress to net zero, including citizens assemblies and independent experts’.