COVID-19 and carbon neutrality

24. June 2020

An overwhelming majority of members of the Climate Assembly UK are calling on government, employers and other stakeholders to support changes that would make the UK carbon neutral.

The interim report "Covid-19, Recovery and the Path to Net Zero" of the randomly selected Citizens' Assembly, published on 23 June 2020, offers an insight into how more than 100 assembly members are trying to get Parliament and government to understand what people think about the country's carbon neutrality. It also looks at the impact of the Corona crisis on achieving the goal of carbon neutrality.

Economic stimulus programme for carbon neutrality

The members of the Climate Assembly UK are a reflection of the population in terms of age, gender, education, place of residence and migration background. They have spent several weekends looking at climate change and possible measures against it. The result:

  • 79 per cent of assembly members "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that "steps taken by government to help the economy recover from the effects of Corona should be designed to help achieve carbon neutrality".
  • 93 per cent of the participants "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that "government, employers and/or others should take action in easing COVID-19 restrictions to encourage lifestyle change in ways that are more compatible with achieving the goal of carbon neutrality".

"No further harm to the planet"

"The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown have had a huge impact on the economy and people's lives. It is now important for the government, parliament and business organisations to make a strong case for a stimulus package that does no further damage to the planet. We discussed the COVID-19 outbreak at the Citizens' Assembly and it was quite clear that many of the assembly members believe that the current moment should be used as an opportunity to promote a green recovery of the economy, with a focus on promoting cleaner, greener lifestyles and an economy that prioritises sustainability over short-term benefits that would cause harm to the planet. We wanted to make sure our views were felt now so that the government could include them in their economic stimulus package."

Citizens' Assembly member Ibrahim, Surrey doctor

The 108 members who founded the UK Climate Assembly in January 2020 were selected to represent the people of the UK in terms of demographics and levels of concern about climate change. The assembly met face-to-face over three weekends in Birmingham before the final weekend (scheduled for 20-22 March) was postponed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and re-organised online to three weekends in April/May.

Final report in September

The interim report contains verbatim quotes from individual assembly members, reflecting the considerations that seemed most important to them. The quotes are not intended to reflect the views of the whole Citizens' Assembly, but to shed light on the thinking of individual members and the reasons behind their decisions. The full report was submitted on 10 September 2020.