Kendal Climate Change Citizens’ Jury
What should Kendal do about climate change?
A great many of us in Kendal are worried about climate change. What are the impacts? What should we do? Who should do what? What can I do? These are just some of the questions we need to answer.
In April last year Kendal Town Council declared a climate emergency, we now want to take the next step and find out what the public thinks. We are raising funds (£6,000) to organise the UK’s first ever Climate Change Citizens’ Jury at town level. The £6,000 will go towards funds for the Citizen’s Jury which have come from Kendal Town Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council.
We aim to randomly recruit a group of 20 local residents who will be a mini version of Kendal’s public, with a wide range of ages and opinions on climate change from across the town. The jury will meet over nine weeks and hear from a range of experts, who they will question, before deciding on a set of recommendations on what Kendal should do about the emergency of climate change.
We are urging any businesses or individuals who wish to support our work to donate on our crowdfunder page.
What is a Citizens’ Jury?
At Kendal Town Council we recognise that we are going to need to get all the help we can to be able to respond to the emergency of climate change. We all have a role to play. Now more than ever we need a plan for how Kendal can take action. But it needs to be a plan guided by the people of Kendal. To do this we want to organise a Citizens’ Jury.
Citizens Juries (or the slightly larger Citizens Assembly) have been run all over the world to help figure out what to do about really big difficult problems. This spring Lancaster City Council is running its own Climate Change People’s Jury, Leeds ran one last year as have Camden, Brent and Oxford.
Using this tried and tested approach we will follow these steps:
- Send out thousands of letters to randomly selected addresses across the town inviting people from age 16 upwards to join the jury.
- Select 20 people who reflect the diversity of the wider population (in terms of age, gender, attitudes to climate change and geography).
- The group of 20 people will be paid to attend nine sessions to share ideas and opinions with each other before hearing from a range of outside experts who they will be able to question (a bit like a jury in a court).
- In the final couple of sessions the group will be supported to write (and agree upon) a set of recommendations for the town.
- These recommendations will then be presented to the Town Council (and other organisations) who will try to implement as many of the recommendations as they can and if they can’t take action to explain exactly why.
A fair process?
In processes like this there are always concerns that the process might be biased. In Leeds the organisers of the Citizens’ Jury set up a separate group made up of the main organisations that are able to influence what happens in the town, to meet alongside the jury. In Kendal we too plan to establish a similar Oversight Panel. In Leeds this included senior representatives from local government, academics, the local chamber of commerce, local community groups, environmental organisations, the media and others. We hope to do the same in Kendal. This group will need to agree between them which experts will present to the Kendal Jury. They will also check how the jury is recruited and what question the Jury will consider.
In Kendal the process will be facilitated by Shared Future a local not for profit social enterprise that has some fifteen years of experience of running similar processes (including the Lancaster and Leeds Citizens’ Juries). A small group of us have been meeting over the last year to get this process off the ground. This group includes Cllr. Giles Archibald, Cllr. Chris Rowley, Cllr. Eamonn Hennessy and Cllr. Jon Owen with advice from Kendal resident Professor Rebecca Willis (who has written extensively on politics and climate change) and local author Professor Mike Berners Lee who wrote ‘There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years’.
For more information on what the Kendal process could look like have a look at the workings of the Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury, including how recruitment was carried out, how the sessions were structured, the final report and also a film of the event at which the jury’s recommendations were launched.
In order to launch a Kendal Climate Change Citizens’ Jury we need to raise £6,000, so please help respond to climate change in Kendal by donating to the crowdfunder page.
The Jury is a community response and those contributing to the Crowdfunder will have the option of being kept up-to-date with the development of the Jury and its findings.
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