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Leadership Needed On Climate Change Consensus

Kiwis need the same kind of unified, non-partisan leadership for climate change that we achieved dealing the pandemic, says Aotearoa Climate Emergency (ACE) network.

“Zero new cases today is excellent,” says Phil Saxby. “We need the same kind of unique leadership on climate change – and it should come from all the political parties”.

ACE has written to the Prime Minister and other political party leaders to consider establishing a Citizens Climate Assembly to involve the public in climate change decisions, just as France and the United Kingdom have done this year. It sees these advantages in doing so:

  • Non-partisan - like the pandemic, climate change calls for a united national response, rather than partisan politics.
  • Practical and Timely - the widespread bushfires of 2019 and 2020 reinforced public alarm about global heating; climate scientists warn of increasing urgency as ice-sheets melt in Greenland and Antarctica; public opinion has swung strongly in favour of climate action, as demonstrated by our huge student strike marches and declarations of climate emergency by NZ Councils.
  • Pro-active. Governments almost everywhere have responded to the pandemic with strong action to protect the public from harm. Similarly, global warming requires strong government action.
  • Consensus required - a Citizens Assembly could provide the necessary consensus by two means:

(1) becoming a public learning tool on the real dangers and difficulties of global heating seen through the eyes of 100 or so ordinary Kiwis chosen largely at random;

(2) the tendency of such assemblies to converge on practical, consensual solutions.

In February this year, ACE launched its 2020 campaign for a Citizens Assembly on Climate change, in the Waimakariri District. ACE President Phil Saxby says the campaign was based on the idea that meaningful climate change action required a social and political consensus.

Scientists say we have 10 years to arrest global temperatures rising beyond 1.5 degrees. “We think a Climate Citizens Assembly is the best way to reach a climate change consensus, by engaging ordinary people in climate change policy decisions,” says Phil Saxby.

Links: France’s Citizens Convention on Climate, commenced 10 January 2020


For more links, visit www.climateemergency.org.nz

More about ACE:

  • ACE is non-partisan and welcomes members from all parties and groups, willing to support its aims
  • ACE supports cross-party action based on consensus that climate change is, indeed, an emergency and requires urgent action at all levels of government
  • ACE believes that holding a Citizens Assembly is one of the best ways in which the public can promote and facilitate the required political consensus
  • ACE believes it is essential for any Citizens Assembly to be representative of the whole people of Aotearoa New Zealand, and to operate democratically, for it to have the credibility it needs with both the public and with the government bodies that must act on its recommendations. It should be established and funded by the government.

ACE is hoping that agreement on holding Citizens Assemblies (at national, regional and local level) will be reached with all the major groups supporting climate emergency declarations: City Councils, ECO organisations, SS4C and other such groups, Iwi organisations, Pasifika groups, trade unions and friendly business and farmer groups.


ACE Conference held at the James Cook, 11 November 2019

The 2019 Wellington conference featured a panel of MPs, including Nicola Willis (standing in for Scott Simpson, National’s spokesperson on climate change), Chloe Swarbrick (Greens) and Dr Duncan Webb (Labour). The Keynote speaker, by video link, was Irish political scientist Diarmuid Torney on the Irish Citizens Assembly experience.

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