FAQ: What? Why? How?
What is it?
The Climate Assembly gathers “our state in miniature” into a deliberative forum to address and make recommendations about a complex issue disrupting our world: The Climate Crisis. The selection of Assembly members is random but designed to ensure that the Assembly provides proportional representation reflecting our entire state population considering criteria like age, gender, ethnicity, and geographic distribution. In a series of facilitated meetings over the course of several weeks, 100 Assembly members will learn, reflect, and deliberate on climate-related issues. In the end, they will produce policy recommendations that serve as a clear, people-centered mandate for lawmakers. The process places the people’s voices front and center in a clear and direct expression of their political will – nurtured in an informed, interactive, and thoughtful way. While supported by key lawmakers, it is fully independent of party or financial influence.
How does it benefit our democracy?
A “Citizens’ Assembly” is a well-tested activity notable for its emphasis on a quality process. Participants are presented with comprehensive and balanced educational content from recognized experts in science and policy, which serves as a basis for their deliberation. They get to meet with a diverse group of fellow Washingtonians, listen and be heard, compare viewpoints, and express their personal stance in this context. Trained facilitators ensure that discussions take place in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect that is also engaging, heartfelt, and inspiring. This form of political participation is qualitatively different from our current democratic tools. Recommendations that emerge will have already been vetted by a broad spectrum of the population. Policymakers benefit from guidance on managing conflicting interests, clarifying priorities, and policies that a representative sample of the population agrees upon.
How does it benefit policymakers?
The recommendations produced over the course of the Assembly are a clear indication for policymakers
of people’s priorities and demands. They provide guidance and promote better responsiveness of public
authorities to the will of the people.
Has it been done before? Does it work?
Yes! Assemblies are an increasingly popular form of democratic innovation and solution-finding across the world. Thankfully, we are able to benefit from the experience and expertise of many countries: Australia, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Poland, and more. The recent French“Convention Citoyenne Pour Le Climat,” focused on reducing carbon emissions, led President Macron to pledge to adopt and fund 146 out of 149 policy recommendations. Assemblies are effective and powerful!
Who gets to be in an Assembly?
The members of the Climate Assembly are selected at random—sort of like a jury. These 100 people would represent the diversity of our state: different communities, ages, genders, political leanings, and careers.
Who runs the Assembly?
Since Assemblies are transpartisan, collaborative efforts that involve people from all perspectives and walks of life, they must be run by independent, non-partisan groups that hold no sway in the topic at hand. There are a number of groups around the world that build and run assemblies—Sortition Foundation and Involve in the UK, and Healthy Democracy and Jefferson Center in the USA, to name a few. Those groups are in charge of randomly selecting and inviting residents, choosing them in a way that represents the demographics of the place. Climate Assembly US will not facilitate any assemblies.
Why support it?
For decades, elected officials have failed to properly address the climate crisis. It is time to let the people speak on how to best protect our common home. Through the Assembly, we can hear their voices loudly, clearly, and before it is too late. The power of the Assembly lies in its diversity, integrity, transparency, and independence. Running an Assembly professionally requires hiring skilled coordinators, facilitators, experts, and technicians. And to ensure that there are no barriers to participation, the Assembly will compensate participants for their time and personal costs. By supporting the use of Climate Assemblies, you expand the way to a safer and healthier future for all!