In 2019, the States Assembly in Jersey declared a climate emergency and proposed a “people-powered approach”, recognising the value in a whole-island response. The Minister for the Environment presented the Carbon Neutral Strategy, which was formally adopted by the States Assembly on 26 February 2020. A key aspect of the long-term climate action plan was convening a citizens’ assembly on climate change to explore key issues related to climate change and to discuss and make recommendations on “the nature and pace of Jersey’s transition to carbon neutrality”.
“How should we work together to become carbon neutral?” The mandate provides that the citizens’ assembly should consider: (a) the implications and trade-offs of a range of scenarios for achieving carbon neutrality; (b) when and how a full transition to zero (or almost zero) emissions in key sectors might be achieved.
Commitment to respond
Jersey’s Carbon Neutral Strategy commits the Government’s Council of Ministers to: debate the recommendations in the States Assembly; consider the recommendations in Jersey’s long-term climate action plan; and to publish a response to the recommendations stating which recommendations are accepted and how they will be implemented. Where recommendations are not accepted and implemented, the Government must provide a clearand reasoned justification.
Chair Convenor, Expert Advisory Panel. Policy team from government administration.
Involve, New Citizenship (design and facilitation), Sortition Foundation (recruitment).
The Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change comprised 45 citizens selected by civic lottery. In the first stage, an invitation to register an interest in taking part in the assembly was sent to 9,000 randomly selected households. Anyone aged 16 or over, who lived at the address and who was eligible to vote could apply. In the second stage, criteria of age, gender, country of birth, tenure and views on climate change were applied for final random selection of assembly members.
15 virtual meetings between March and May 2021. Each of the sessions lasted around two and a half hours.
The assembly was organised in four blocks:
Block 1 – An introduction to the climate change issues facing Jersey and our emissions
Block 2 – The contribution of transport to Jersey’s emissions
Block 3 – The impact of heating, cooling, cooking on Jersey’s emissions
Block 4 – Agree recommendations, including preferred policy changes
The assembly was not broken into thematic groups – the whole assembly considered both transport and energy use in turn. The assembly also considered sustainable finance and offsets.
Active table facilitation
Virtual assembly meetings held via Zoom. Technical assistance and equipment, where required, was provided by a support team. A Google resource area hosted background documents, materials, and outputs from the sessions.
Video presentations followed by Q&A sessions with speakers. Background factsheets containing additional information. The expert advisory group and policy team decided to focus the assembly on the topics of transport and domestic energy use, because they are recognised as two significant domestic contributors to climate change. They also provided suggestions for which speakers the assembly would hear from, and reviewed the information provided to members.
Recommendations on transport and domestic energy use were developed following the same process. Having considered evidence from speakers and from the broader “Climate Conversation” (see “Communication” below), members brainstormed ideas. These were collated by facilitators into seven themes that were agreed by members. Members broke into groups for each theme to develop recommendations. As the recommendations were refined, the groups were given opportunities to review and contribute to the other themes. The seven recommendations from the transport and domestic energy use themes were placed on the virtual resource site, so they could be reviewed between sessions. The whole assembly worked on high level recommendations on sustainable finance.
Members voted to rank the seven recommendations from the transport and domestic energy use themes, in order of priority. Members also voted on the date Jersey should be carbon neutral from 5 choices between 2030 and 2050 and agreed on emissions reductions for transport, domestic energy, and total on-Island emissions (versus offsetting).
The final report was presented to the States Assembly on 1st June 2021 by the Minister for the Environment. The report was written by civil servants capturing the recommendations and explaining assembly design and process.
In the six-week period in the run up to the start of the Citizens’ Assembly, the Government of Jersey ran a public conversation on climate change – the ‘Climate Conversation’ – in which members of the public were encouraged to provide their views and ideas on action that Jersey should take in response to the climate emergency. The summary of all the ideas submitted was provided to the members of the Citizens’ Assembly and discussed when the recommendations were considered. The ‘Climate Conversation was accompanied by publicity on mainstream and social media to stimulate interest and public debate in the Assembly and its recommendations. The Chair Convenor was particularly active. The organisers were careful not to identify members of the Citizens’ Assembly in the publicity.
Oversight of official response
The chair convenor continues to advocate for the Assembly and its recommendations.
Too early to say. Positive impact on members who were originally highly cynical of the process.
No independent evaluation commissioned.