Make it Real: Scottish Climate Citizen’s Assembly

Make it Real is related to the Scottish Climate Citizen’s Assembly, the XR Scotland Political Engagement Circle have been working on this project with the Scottish Government.

XR Scotland is represented on the Stewarding Group for the Climate Citizen’s Assembly.  We’ve had some significant victories:

  • Getting the question changed from the original proposal: ‘How should Scotland respond to climate change?’ to ‘How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?’
  • Some good people to be involved as ‘experts’ designing the content of what the Assembly members will discuss in detail.

But there’s a real risk that the Assembly degenerates into making recommendations for more small-scale actions such as more cycle lanes, bit more housing insulation etc.

This part of the campaign is to target:

  • MSPs and other decision makers to get them to ‘Make it Real’ – making sure the Assembly discusses the drivers of climate change, including unsustainable economic growth and rising levels of inequality, and all the issues raised by the Wildlife and Land Reform rebellion and the ‘Make the Connections’ work.
  • All of us in Scotland – so everyone knows the Assembly is happening (first meeting in November), and keeps up the pressure for it to be ‘real’ by contributing ideas through the government’s social media outreach and our own (forthcoming, details to be decided) People’s Assemblies.

We’re reaching out to MSPs this week – see XR Scotland Facebook for the latest updates.  Many thanks to the craftivists who have produced beautiful painted pebbles to be offered to MSPs as keepsakes and reminders of the need to make the Assembly real.  Letters are going out this week to them, alongside an invitation to collect a pebble outside Holyrood.  Please follow this ‘opener’ up by reaching out to your MSP – seek an appointment to let them know how important the CCA is to you, and to tackling the climate emergency.

Here’s a bit more guidance on how to do that.  Please do get in touch and also let us know how you get on.

Reaching out to MSPs:  Help them ‘Make it Real’

Why? 

  • Because we want MSPs to make sure the Climate Citizen’s Assembly is real – that it honestly and transparently helps Scotland make the changes it needs in order to sent an example to the world on how to address the climate emergency
  • Unless MSPs and civil servants play their part in making sure the assembly has the time, support and diversity of input so it can come up with new thinking, then it will be an expensive waste of taxpayers money.

When? 

  • Seek an appointment now.  Hopefully to speak to them in the next couple of weeks. 
  • The Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, has already had to ‘lay before the Scottish Parliament, a report on the administration and operation of the assembly ’ (that’s what the 2019 Climate Act says, Clause 32 A 7).  
  • This is a good moment to contact your MSP: after the Cabinet Secretary has laid the report before Parliament, but before the assembly begins in early November.

Where? 

  • Likely to be a virtual meeting

What do we specifically want? 

  • Encourage your MSPs to voice their support for this deepening of the democratic process, and for an assembly that could help enable real action on the climate emergency. This could be through their writing to Roseanna Cunningham, speaking in Parliament, and/ or publicising the process to their constituents and colleagues.
  • The key issues to raise are about: 
    • Making sure Scotland’s Climate Citizens Assembly (CCA) is ambitious – not just a green wash of business as usual. 
    • Making sure it builds on previous work like that of the Just Transition Commission
    • Making sure it builds on what was learned during Covid about how rapid a response there can be when the government sees an emergency – e.g. finding accommodation for homeless people almost overnight
    • Making sure it isn’t constrained by a business as usual approach but is supported to really assess the depth of the crisis, and how to address its underlying drivers.

How do I start the conversation? 

Up to you: 

  • Just as a concerned citizen.  You’ve heard there’s a CCA, you want to know more, you want to make sure that your MSP understands a constituent’s priorities. For example, you could explain that you think citizens assemblies – if undertaken well – can provide a way to help restore people’s trust in democracy, that you think that politicians need a mandate to enable the level of change needed to tackle the causes of the climate crisis, and you could explain how serious you think that crisis is.
  • As an XR member, interested in ‘Making it Real’.  Some rebels have been doing ‘Craftivism’ and have done attractive paintings on pebbles which also carry the message of ‘Make it Real’.  The idea of craftivism is to step out of the traditional activist mode of persuading and getting into discussion with someone with the underlying idea of “I’m right, you are wrong/don’t know the facts/don’t understand the implications”.  It tries, rather, through the offer of a hand-made gift, to get into a meaningful conversation with the other person, to listen to and understand their perspectives, and offer one’s own. So, for example. if you raise the issues mentioned in the previous bullet point, you might want to also ask them how serious they think the climate crisis is, how they think we can enable the level of change needed to tackle the crisis, and how they think we can restore trust in democracy? The pebbles, which XR members of all ages have painted as gifts for our MSPs, are being sent out to MSPs today, and they come with a letter explaining the gift which might also give you some ideas for the kinds of things to say.

XRS Political Engagement Circle

15th September 2020


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