“We demand a culture of participation, fairness and transparency. The Government must create and be led by a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. Only the common sense of ordinary people will help us navigate the challenging decisions ahead.”
Decide Together. It’s the third demand. Last but certainly not least.
We believe that the current political deadlock on the Climate and Ecological Emergency can only be broken using a Citizens’ Assembly. Essentially, just regular people representing local areas finding compromise to create legally binding recommendations.
As part of our actions, we’re getting people ready for a more participatory democracy. On Thursday 25th May around 50 locals joined us in Bournville for a Climate Conversations event. Attendees shared food, discussed problems and solutions, reflected on what they can do, and made connections.
We’re thankful to everyone who came and shared their evening with us. This included current members of XR Brum and other branches, contingents from concerned organisations such as the Quakers and Retrofit Balsall Heath, and members of the public.
Attendees discussed four topics. We’ve taken notes made during the evening and summarised them below. We’ve also made word clouds to show some of the key themes that the various groups discussed.
If you’d like to attend an event like this in the future, there’s information at the bottom of the page!
Air, Land, and Sea
The most common issues that were discussed were air and plastic pollution and the damage agriculture and mechanising farming can do. Sewage dumping was also discussed by most groups; for more on this see XR’s dirty water campaign.
Something shared by many of the groups was a feeling that most people and communities are disconnected from these core parts of life, and rebuilding that connection would go a long way to solving the issues. In particular, that rebuilding this connection would encourage many to take actions like reducing water usage or changing their diet.
However, although individual actions are important, it was generally felt that nothing would be achieved without legislation. Positive examples include the CAZ in Birmingham and more cycle lanes, both of which improve air quality. That said, there was a general feeling that policy is playing catch-up.
Once again, the feeling that our species has lost a connection with nature was shared by many. There was agreement that humans often view nature as a resource for economic growth and not as the source of joy it is. One group noted that the rising trend in forest schools may well be one way to turn this tide and build an affinity for nature in our kids.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘Rewilding’ was the word on most people’s lips. Leaving nature to take the reigns on monocultures or tightly-managed land was seen by most as the central solution to biodiversity loss.
Across different groups, the focus of rewilding discussion was varied. Whereas some groups focused on large-scale rewilding, others looked at how it can be done at the local level in people’s gardens and by creating nature corridors through cities. Rewilding Britain has some great resources on this topic.
Many of the groups discussed very specific examples within this very broad topic. These included plastics, renewable energy, transport, forestry, and food. There was also a very strong feeling about the need to retrofit old buildings instead of demolishing them! The two solutions that came through most strongly were both about shifts in mindset.
First and foremost, a common solution proposed was educational, financial, and legislative changes to change the public mindset away from overconsumption. In almost all the examples discussed, there was a recognition that we need to reduce what we consume.
Secondly, a few groups also mentioned the value of local products and how they fit into the concept of a circular economy.
It was very interesting to see that almost all groups took their conversations in the same direction. The buzzwords from the economics discussions were Circular Economy, Doughnut Economy, and Growth.
Most groups questioned the need for continued growth that the planet can so clearly no longer support. Many reasons for this push for growth were given, but the most common answer was simply greed. One group pointed to the interesting fact that Bhutan measures Gross National Happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product.
This wasn’t the only topic of discussion however. Other groups suggested decentralising the UK government structure further, buying locally, and using cash wherever possible to keep money in the area.
Thank you again to everyone that attended and added their thoughts to the debate.
The best way to hear about these events in the future is to join our mailing list below. If you were inspired to get more involved in XR, why not attend one of our monthly ‘Introduction to XR Brum‘ events?