Extinction Rebellion Sheffield has called on the city council to embark on a public information campaign to “ensure everyone understands the scale of the potential impact of climate breakdown on Sheffield, and the positive solutions necessary to secure our futures”.
Activists from the group met with Cllr Lewis Dagnall, Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change, and Cllr Neale Gibson today (2 July 2019) to discuss the council’s work to tackle the climate and ecological crises.
Cllr Dagnall agreed to a meeting after XR Sheffield staged a die-in outside city hall on 15 May. The council has promised to take steps towards meeting Extinction Rebellion’s three demands, by declaring a climate emergency, setting a target for Sheffield to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and agreeing to hold a citizens’ assembly to oversee the changes necessary to achieve that target.
During the meeting, Cllr Dagnall revealed that the process of commissioning a citizens’ assembly will be underway by the end of this year. He agreed to meet with XR again at the end of July to update them on progress.
A citizens’ assembly would bring a representative group of people from Sheffield together to learn, deliberate and make recommendations on how the city should tackle climate breakdown. Similar to jury service, members would be randomly selected from the population by a process called sortition.
Extinction Rebellion believes that a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice can help politicians to implement informed and democratically legitimate policies on how to meet a 2025 target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce the potential public backlash at the ballot box.
Cllr Dagnall reiterated the council’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for the whole of Sheffield by 2030 - short of XR’s 2025 demand, but ahead of the government’s national target of 2050.
The meeting came ahead of tomorrow’s council meeting, where councillors will discuss the Tyndall Centre’s report on how Sheffield can meet the emissions targets set out in the Paris climate agreement. The report emphasises the urgency, scale and challenge for the city in reducing our carbon emissions to zero - highlighting that, at current levels, Sheffield will emit more carbon dioxide in six years than we can afford in the next 80.
Dr Bing Jones, one of the Extinction Rebellion Sheffield activists who met with Cllr Dagnall, said: “We are really encouraged by the council’s understanding and attitude - but the tasks ahead are truly enormous.
“It is essential that XR continues to raise public awareness, build public support, and create a shared vision of a cleaner, kinder, more sustainable city. We will continue to take action until the city region mayor and Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley councils work with Sheffield to address the climate and ecological crises.
“While we welcome the council’s declaration of a climate emergency, we believe it could do a lot more to better communicate this to the public. We urge the council to tell the truth to its citizens with a concerted public information campaign to ensure everyone understands the scale of the potential impact of climate breakdown on Sheffield, and the positive solutions necessary to secure our futures.”