Written evidence submitted by Abundance Investment (CAUK0012)
The Climate Assembly UK demonstrated the value of engaging directly with citizens on the big questions posed by the transition to a NetZero economy. It was successful in moving the terms of the debate on from simply looking at “green” solutions as a binary choice and provided much needed focus on the very real political, social and ethical dilemmas involved.
The process also demonstrated the value of the exchange and discussion of ideas in a social context, which shifted the locus of change away from simple concepts of individual consumers to consider our role as citizens of a society with real interdependencies in the way we enable our everyday lives.
As an investment based crowdfunding company we have seen the impact of the Climate Assembly both in the attitudes of our individual investors but also the change attitudes of companies which previously viewed the transition as something ‘for others’ and now see their own responsibility and requirement to act towards the collective goal of achieving NetZero.
The process itself and the publication of the report of the findings have added significant weight as an ‘independent’ view of public opinion in detail (as opposed to simplistic quantitative survey questions) and provided much needed insight into the priorities of individuals when it comes to addressing both the opportunities and issues relating to the transition to NetZero.
In particular, it provides a useful evidence base for considering sectors where the path to transition is uncertain both in terms of technology but also in terms of the social and political barriers to acceptance or adoption by individuals or communities.
More could be done to look at the issues of finance and investment and the role that we have as citizens to take responsibility for how our money is invested and the impact that has on our future environment.
There is no doubt that we have seen a significant acceleration in policy development and thinking towards NetZero which seem to be very much aligned with the findings of the Assembly. However, the delivery of policy on the ground could be better informed by the insights from the process – there is still an attachment to old modes of thinking and in particular modes of communication which fail to take account of the particular social and cultural contexts in which change is being encouraged.
Government should look for ways to encourage the development of local climate assemblies, particularly in regions where the transition to NetZero carries costs as well as opportunities (socially, economically and environmentally).
It should also be clear where and how policy has been informed by the process and outputs of the Assembly to address the perceived issues of lobbying and access to policy development which have been discussed recently on a number of important transition topics, in particular housing, food and transport.
Parliament should take the opportunity to engage not just with the findings but also the detail of the process and the tone of the debate which it created which contrasts strongly with the more ideologically bound terms of debate which dominate formal political discourse.