Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, a citizens' assembly convened by the city published its recommendations on local climate policy on 18 October 2021.
Members’ top recommendation was that the council should “immediately set out a road map for how Glasgow will adapt to the green economy”, showing the opportunities for training, education and jobs. Other priorities were an education system which teaches children about the skills needed for a low-carbon future, raising awareness over required home energy measures, such as retrofitting, and encouraging supermarkets, suppliers and shops to “play their part”.
No tax for retrofitting homes
During the process, members came up with the idea of a tax specifically for retrofitting homes. It is estimated it would cost around £11 billion to transform homes in the Glasgow City Region into energy efficient properties. Across the region, a total of 428,000 properties are currently below the Energy Performance Certificate rating of C, where A is the best and G is the worst. Retrofitting would involve upgrading the insulation and energy efficiency of old homes, and is key to reaching net zero targets.
The tax suggestions was “met with mixed views during the deliberation phase and was prioritised low overall” by the assembly. A report on the assembly’s findings states: “Over two-thirds of the assembly - 35 of 50 members - ranked the tax on retrofitting as their 15th or 16th priority out of 16, and only five members ranked it in their top 10 priorities. The impact of such a tax on reducing the city’s carbon emissions was perceived as limited. It has therefore not been included in the final set of recommendations as it did not receive sufficient support from members.
Members did decide the council should increase financial support to households to decarbonise. They also recommended the council should improve waste and recycling management and training for a green economy should be subsidised by governments and businesses. And the assembly wants to see a ‘circular economy district’ established in Glasgow to help people access reuse and repair shops.
The Citizens' Assembly meetings were held in August 2021. The Assembly was run by associate company Ipsos Mori in conjunction with Glasgow City Council. The meeting was attended by 50 randomly selected residents from across the city.
Goal: Climate neutrality by 2030
The assembly participants had met five times and had been given knowledge on various climate policy issues by climate experts. Afterwards, the participants had discussed in small groups how Glasgow can become climate neutral by 2030 and formulated recommendations for action.
City Council members were called upon to endorse the Citizens' Assembly recommendations and incorporate them into a Glasgow Green New Deal. The city council had declared a climate and environmental emergency in May 2019 and decided that the city should become climate neutral by 2030.
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