Scottish climate justice groups launch campaign for Climate Citizens’ Assembly

Extinction Rebellion Scotland occupied the Scottish Parliament in January 2019 and held a symbolic Climate Citizens Assembly

At 12:00pm today Extinction Rebellion Scotland will be joined by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Common Weal and Global Justice Now to launch their campaign for a Climate Citizens’ Assembly.

The Declaration calls for the Scottish government to create a Climate Citizens’ Assembly by March 2020 to decide the range of policies needed to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.


Supporters of the Declaration will participate in:

  • A mass ‘die-in’ outside parliament where participants will lie under an arch reading ‘2045’.
  • A Dance of the Dead where participants will dress in black and bright colours to symbolise the alternative futures we are faced with.
  • A symbolic Citizens’ Assembly to launch the campaign for a Climate Citizens’ Assembly.

The aim is to put pressure on the Scottish government before it votes next week on the Climate Bill. The campaign groups are demanding that Scotland lead the way by convening a Climate Citizens’ Assembly, by being briefed at all levels on the scientific evidence behind the true level of the emergency, and by proposing a set of policies to tackle the causes of the climate crisis.

What is a Citizens’ Assembly?

A Citizens’ Assembly brings people together to learn, deliberate and make recommendations on an issue of public concern. Members are randomly selected from the population by a process called sortition and the assembly is representative in terms of key characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, education level and geography.

They are conducted by non-partisan organisations under independent oversight. They are transparent, inclusive and effective.

A Citizens’ Assembly hears from a wide range of expert witnesses during the process of deliberation. This process takes place over a series of weekends, with participants reimbursed for their time.

Why are XR, Friends of the Earth, Common Weal and Global Justice Now demanding a Citizens’ Assembly?

The climate and ecological emergency poses wide-ranging and complex challenges that need urgent solutions. Citizens’ Assemblies are often used to address issues that are too controversial and difficult for politicians to deal with by themselves. They have proven successful in Ireland, where a Citizens’ Assembly broke the deadlock on two controversial issues: legalising same-sex marriage and repealing the ban on the abortion.

A Climate Citizens’ Assembly would help to break the deadlock by:

  • Being a fair and transparent way to produce informed and democratically legitimate judgements – all information given to members is shared publicly.
  • Being a useful tool where difficult trade-offs are involved – for example, deciding which is the best way to meet a necessary and much more ambitious target for net zero emissions.

Liz Murray of Global Justice Now stated; “For millions of people around the world climate change is a crisis which has already arrived. Those in the Global South, who were impoverished by colonialism and have then had decades of a global economy being rigged against them, are feeling its effects most acutely. Corporate profit continues to be put above people and the planet that sustains us. If we are to right the global injustice of climate breakdown then we must change the system that has caused it. That’s why we support the setting up of a Climate Citizens’ Assembly as we believe that it could play a powerful, meaningful and practical part in changing that system, and in challenging the current balance of power which favours big business and short-term politics.”

Professor Emeritus Sir Thomas M Devine from the University of Edinburgh said; “I am happy to support the aspiration for a Climate Citizens’ Assembly as a means of further spreading knowledge among the people of Scotland about the grave threat that climate change poses to our world.”


About Friends of the Earth Scotland

We’re campaigning for a world where everyone can enjoy a healthy environment and a fair share of the earth’s resources. Climate change is the greatest threat to this aim, that’s why we’re calling for a just transition to a 100% renewable, nuclear-free, zero-fossil-fuel Scotland.

About Common Weal

Common Weal is a people-powered think and do tank in Scotland. We develop policy on and campaign for social and economic equality, for wellbeing and the environment, for quality of life, for peace and justice.

About Global Justice Now

We are a democratic social justice organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.

About Extinction Rebellion Scotland

Extinction Rebellion Scotland is a non-violent direct-action movement formed to take urgent action in the face of climate emergency and ecological catastrophe, as part of the global justice movement.

Read more about Extinction Rebellion here.