Camden Council – Citizens’ Assembly

In March 2019, Camden Council declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ with the acknowledgement that time is limited to stop the rapid increase in global temperature causing long term changes to the climate system. The council has helped to reduce borough-wide emissions by 32% since 2010, but it was acknowledged that progress in this area needs to be accelerated in light of the IPCC 1.5 degree warming report.

In response to this declaration, Camden Council – with the help of a number of independent organisations – arranged a Citizens’ Assembly to decide how the borough as a whole should address the climate crisis. The Citizens’ Assembly on the climate crisis sits at the centre of Camden’s response to the climate emergency and the aim of the process was to build demographically representative citizen consensus about how the local authority area should address the issue.

The Citizens’ Assembly

Camden’s Citizens’ Assembly on the climate crisis was the first of its kind in the UK. Whilst the council delivered the project, maintaining impartiality and transparency through the process was seen as a key requirement for success. This was delivered through working with partners to provide expert support on the process design as well as leading facilitation throughout all of the sessions.

The assembly was comprised of three sessions. The process started with two evening sessions where participants heard from a total of eight speakers on the science of climate change, current CO2 emissions in Camden, and solutions which could be implemented at the home, neighbourhood and council level. The third session, titled ‘Action for Change’, brought participants together to formulate ideas and actions and resulted in 17 actions to be implemented within the borough.

The assembly process was widely praised by participants and this was reflected by 90% of participants attending all three sessions and 76% of participants wanting to continue to be involved in developing and delivering the actions following the assembly. Further to the feedback from assembly members, the process has been widely praised in local and national media.