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A Citizens' Assembly on Climate

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Ekaterina Lukasheva

Last month, facing up to the climate emergency, Sheffield City Council announced a new target of 2030 to become carbon neutral. Plans will be drawn up by a citizens' assembly. Sheffield Climate Alliance activists have been brought in and Councillor Lewis Dagnall, leading on the target on the Council cabinet, said that research will be presented before a "full and frank debate" at this month's Council meeting on 3 July.

Sheffield's history is based on industry and its products have undoubtedly improved lives, but the mineral extraction industry's effects have been shocking. Sheffield has air quality so poor that in some areas it poses a serious risk to health and is thought to contribute to more than 500 premature deaths a year. Globally, petrochemicals and other pollutants have brought the extermination of whole ecosystems. Multinational companies have significant power to lobby, bribe and get into bed with politicians. They have lied and distorted the truth, diverting attention in a thousand ways until the public can hardly see the links between the issues.

it's just one piece in the jigsaw

That's why it's great news that a citizens' assembly will be formed in our city. It should represent a cross-section of ordinary people selected as in jury service, including young people. They would take expert opinion and evidence from all sides. Informed discussions would then lead to recommendations free from special interests and political pressures.

Last month Extinction Rebellion welcomed the announcement of a national citizens' assembly on the climate emergency, one of the movement's three demands, but expressed concern that the recommendations of the assemblies may not be binding. "If you are going to do a citizens' assembly it has to have teeth and be legally binding," XR's Roger Hallam told The Guardian.

The plan is not speedy and it could even dilute further pressure for change, if some people think the issue is 'solved' and others waste energy arguing about what must come next. On the other hand, it could transform Sheffield Council's operations, with wider implications for its supply chain and a huge impact on the whole city.

If it works, it's just one piece in the jigsaw. Any protest, any political recognition, any increased awareness is a sign of positive movement, but the fight for a healthier planet must continue through our lifetimes and beyond. Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future and other pressure groups must keep demanding more. It's a fight for survival. Our backs cannot be turned.

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alt-sheff.org

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sheffieldclimatealliance.net

fridaysforfuture.org

THE CONCEPTS OF EVIL IN MODERN MANAGEMENT

17-18 July | 10am | Union St, S1 2JP

This one-day course uncovers hidden 'administrative evil' in corporate and public services. Not your usual adult education class, then. Course leader and 'active citizen' Nigel Slack has made his life's work the forensic examination of how Sheffield City Council works. enrolonline.wea.org.uk

PRIDE IN SHEFFIELD 2019

Sat 27 July | Endcliffe Park

This year's celebration with the city's LGBTQ+ community invites all to get involved in a day of parading, music and fun. In the 50th year since the Stonewall riots, it's also held in solidarity with the struggles of millions still harassed or killed for who they love or how they express their gender. prideinsheffield.net

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