COP26 shows we need to democratise to decarbonise

Phil Connor, ERS Scotland Campaigns Officer

Posted on the 26th November 2021

In the run up to the COP26 climate change conference, a coalition of leading democracy organisations joined together on a campaign to put strong democracy at the heart of any response. The campaign’s message was clear; we cannot tackle climate change without changing the ways we are governed. If we want to decarbonise, we must democratise. 

80% of people understand the climate crisis to be a global emergency caused by human activity (Ipsos Mori), yet our ability to hold politicians to account is constrained by a voting system that we use roughly once every 4 years. If we want to ensure climate action we need to redesign our democracy. Working collaboratively, Compass, the Electoral Reform Society, Make Votes Matter, Sortition Foundation and Unlock Democracy launched a joint petition demanding a binding Citizens’ Assembly that would bring together people from all walks of life to redesign British democracy from the bottom up. 

Citizens’ Assemblies bring together a representative group of the public, to listen to experts, discuss their views and decide on action. By addressing the out of date democratic system across the UK, we can build a democracy that is fit to tackle the emergencies of today.

This wasn’t just an online campaign though, on the global Day of Action we took our message to the streets of Glasgow and London. We talked to hundreds of people, distributed (eco-printed) leaflets and hosted an event in the heart of Glasgow, spreading the message that to solve the climate crisis we must change our democracy from the ground up. The response from the people we spoke to was that they’re fed up with political inaction on climate change, losing faith in the democratic system and want reforms that hold politicians to account and deliver a sustainable and just change for people and the planet. 

The lesson is clear, if we want to save the planet we must transform democracy. Only by doing this can we make our voices heard, avert disaster and have a just transition to sustainable societies.  

Phil Connor, Electoral Reform Society Scotland
Will Stringer, Sortition Foundation

Sign the petition to Democratise to Decarbonise

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