Members gear up for final weekend of discussions before drawing up net zero policy recommendations later this summer
Members of the public appointed by Parliament to help decide on the most effective policies that could put the country on the path to net zero emissions by 2050 are set to take part in the final weekend of online discussions before drawing up their recommendations for MPs.
The final stage of deliberations had originally been scheduled for March, but following the coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdown the meeting was postponed and moved online in order to allow the Citizens Assembly UK to complete its work via video conferencing.
And now, as the group gears up for their last weekend of discussions, the 107 Assembly members are set to check over and finalise their preferred pathway towards UK's statutory 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions target, which is then set to be delivered to MPs and government ministers for consideration.
To date, Assembly members have heard from a raft of experts in different areas of climate policy, covering energy, transport and agriculture, as well as hard to decarbonise sectors such as heating, heavy industry, shipping, and aviation.
Chris Stark, CEO of independent government advisory body the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), is set to lead one of the final online discussion sessions tomorrow afternoon, which he said would look at how Covid-19 has affected daily lives and behaviours.
"Since the Assembly last met face to face in Birmingham, everyone has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic," he said. "We're not drawing direct links between coronavirus and climate change, but we wanted to give Assembly members a chance to reflect on the staggering changes to our way of life during the lockdown. So in this final weekend Assembly members will discuss their experience of coronavirus and let Parliament know whether it has changed views on how to achieve net zero."
Climate Assembly UK has seen members selected from across the UK to reflect the make-up of the population, encapsulating different ages, regions, gender, ethnicity and attitudes towards climate change. Its final report is expected to be delivered to Parliament before the summer recess.
Chair of the Treasury Committee, Mel Stride MP, said in a recorded video message to Assembly members that while the government had significant plans to reach net zero "we need to know exactly how we're going to get there... and that's where the Assembly's work has been so important".
"When the report is published, I will make sure that every member of the Treasury select committee receives a copy of it and I will further make sure that the government and ministers are fully aware of all the recommendations made by the Assembly," she said. "I thank the Assembly members again for all the huge amount of work they have put into this really important project - important for all of us, important for a green economy and for making sure that we leave a better planet for our children and all who follow."
The meeting comes just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week signalled that the government's commitment to delivering on the UK's net zero emission target remains "undiminished" by the coronavirus crisis. He also strongly hinted that the government would make climate action a central component of its economic recovery plans.
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