Extinction Rebellion Scotland hold a symbolic Citizens Assembly in the Scottish Parliament on Burns Day 2019

#AsThePlanetBurns #BurnsDayCitizensAssembly #ScottishCitizensAssembly  





We are facing an unprecedented global emergency.  Our governments have failed to protect us.

2018’s IPCC Report warned that there are only a dozen years left for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5c, beyond which further warning will lead to unmanageable catastrophe and existential threat.

This requires a global effort but it must begin in wealthy countries such as Scotland, which have benefitted most from the fossil fuel industries.

This effort is too important to be left in the hands of politicians. The Scottish people must oversee these changes through a Citizens Assembly. This is why Extinction Rebellion Scotland are holding a symbolic Citizens Assembly in the Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber today on Burns Day, 25th January 2019.

According to climate scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, Scotland needs to cut CO2 emissions by 10% per year starting immediately; begin a programme of rapid reforestation and land management; and begin and urgent closure of the oil & gas sector (1).

Within the next six weeks, the Scottish Parliament will debate the first stage of a new Climate Bill. The draft version published in May 2018 comes nowhere close to fulfilling Scotland’s fair share of reducing emissions. (2) The Scottish Government talks up its actions on climate change, (3) while at the same time promoting and subsidising the fossil fuel industries, (4) the principal culprits of the climate emergency.

For this reason, Extinction Rebellion Scotland is holding a symbolic Citizens Assembly in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament Building on Burns Day (25th January 2019).

The Citizens Assembly that will deliberate on the climate crisis and how to address it.

By this means, we hope to spark a national conversation about the ecological crisis and climate breakdown, and enable the drastic action required to address it, including the implementation of a Citizens Assembly.

Robert Alcock, of Extinction Rebellion commented,

“We are not breaking the law. We are lawfully gathered in OUR Parliament, to draw attention to the climate emergency and to call for a Citizens’ Assembly in the name of the land and people of Scotland. Direct action does not have to be illegal. Direct action means empowering yourself. It means acting according to your own conscience, no matter what the law and society may say, without asking permission from anyone.”

The proposed Scottish Citizens’ Assembly will include citizens randomly selected from each of the nation’s 73 MSP constituencies, with full access to expert advice, and would be empowered to review and revise legislation, acting as a second chamber of the Scottish Parliament. (5) Similar assemblies have already been implemented successfully in other countries, notably in Ireland, where it has recommended the recent abortion referendum as well as discussing climate change and other thorny topics. (6)

Extinction Rebellion Scotland is a non-violent direct-action movement formed in response to the climate emergency, allied with international Extinction Rebellion, Rising Up and the global climate justice movement. Our demands, issued as a Declaration of Rebellion to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government on 8th December 2018, are as follows:

  1. That the Scottish Government tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, acknowledge and reverse any policies that help drive the climate crisis, and commit to enabling a rapid and just transition to a sustainable and fair society.
  2. That the Scottish Government enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, including by replacing a system based on accelerating consumption with one based on ensuring the wellbeing of all.
  3. The creation of a Scottish Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose and a society that cares for all.  

    The Scottish Parliament derives its authority from the Crown, as symbolised by the Mace, which is raised when Parliament is in session. Without the Mace, Parliament cannot pass laws. The power of our Citizens’ Assembly, on the other hand, derives from the land and people of Scotland. To symbolise this, we will use a bundle of ash keys, the “keys to power” (the seeds of the ash, a fast-growing and mighty native tree). These seeds will later be planted out in different locations across Scotland, to symbolise returning power from Parliament to the land and people. On Burns Night, Scots around the globe celebrate Scotland’s national bard, reciting famous verses like “Address to a Haggis” and “Auld Lang Syne”. But amidst the haggis and whiskey, we are liable to forget that Robert Burns was not only a poet, lover, and patriot, but also a naturalist, farmer, and radical environmentalist. His poetry is infused with the spirit of wild nature. Many of his verses are addressed to rivers, mountains, plants, and animals; he penned poems of rage against deforestation (“On the Destruction of Drumlanrig Woods”) and sport hunting (“The Wounded Hare”), pleas for the ethical treatment of animals (“The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie”) and for tree planting (“The Humble Petition of Bruar Water”). In one of the best-loved poems, To a Mouse (On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785), Burns wrote: “I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion / has broken Nature’s social union…”   In holding a symbolic Citizens’ Assembly on Robert Burns’ 260th birthday (25th January 2019), we invoke the spirit of Scotland’s radical eco-poet. We will inaugurate the Assembly by reading one of Burns’ poems. If Burns were alive today, we feel strongly that he would support the goals of Extinction Rebellion Scotland. 
  1. https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/82366490/Quantifying_Scotland_s_Carbon_Budgets_for_Paris.pdf 
  2. https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/calls-scottish-government-go-further-climate-change-after-ipcc-warnings-over 
  3. https://www.thenational.scot/news/17275955.scotland-a-leader-on-climate-action-sturgeon-tells-summit/ 
  4. https://www.scottish-enterprise-mediacentre.com/news/scotlands-first-minister-announces-gbp-31-million-boost-for-global-oil-and-gas-manufacturing-campus 
  5. https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/10433/new-report-citizens-assembly-scottish-parliament 
  6. https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/The-Eighth-Amendment-of-the-Constitution/ More information: Scottish Citizens’ Assembly proposalhttps://www.commonspace.scot/articles/10433/new-report-citizens-assembly-scottish-parliament

    Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/