Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Climate Assemblies: Faking Democracy

What colour dinner plate do you want your bread and water on?

Climate activists have a problem: they’re obsessed with an issue far removed from the daily lives of ordinary people. Interviews with elected members of the UK Parliament confirm that political candidates almost never get asked about the climate while knocking on doors seeking voter supporter.

This means there is no democratic mandate for applying a climate lens to every government decision. There is no democratic mandate for making climate concerns the yardstick by which everything in society is judged, found wanting, and then coerced into compliance.

Elected politicians are supposed to be the mechanism by which ordinary people exert influence over government policy. But in recent years, politicians across the political spectrum have lost the plot.

Being the voice of human constituents struggling to find jobs, safe housing, and good schools is so passé. Self-appointed and self-anointed, politicians have decided their over-arching responsibility is saving the planet.

But this bait-and-switch is not OK. There’s nothing admirable about promising voters you’ll improve their lives, and then selling them down the river so journalists will call you a ‘climate leader.’

The huge gulf between what the person on the street thinks is important versus what the political class wants to talk about is real. It has been decades in the making, and is not going away. Politicians have, therefore, begun to feel the need to manufacture the appearance of public support for the drastic measures upon which their drastic emissions reduction dreams rely.

In a newly published report, The UK Climate Assembly: Manufacturing Mandates, Ben Pile explains how this works. 108 members of the public were recruited to take part in a consultation process. The absurd premise seems to have been that, in a nation of 67 million people, the support of a focus group of 108 individuals is sufficient to justify government action.

The consultation process was originally supposed to span four weekends, but got extended due to the pandemic. That’s another red flag. People able and willing to give up four weekends of their time are unusual. By no stretch of the imagination were these 108 people a random sample of UK citizens.

Moreover, all the important decisions were pre-ordained. There was no debate about whether climate change should dominate the government’s agenda. That was simply taken for granted.

There was no debate as to whether government plans to bully “all sectors of business and society” into achieving Net Zero emissions by the year 2050 are sensible, feasible, or realistic. That, too, was taken for granted.

Billed as an opportunity to work with the public, engage the public, and give people a say in shaping the future, the Climate Assembly was the equivalent of asking 108 people what colour dinner plate they’d like their ration of bread and water served on.

This was pretend democracy. It was totally fake.

Download Pile’s important report here



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  • In announcing the Climate Assembly, MP Rachel Reeves declared that the UK government’s goal of achieving Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 depends on “buy-in from the public for the measures needed to achieve this ambitious goal…I hope the Citizens Assembly will demonstrate that, when all is considered, there is strong public support – even demand – for the Government to take the action necessary…” (my italics).
  • But all was not considered. Pile reports that, after listening to one-sided presentations, members of the Climate Assembly were invited to vote on select scenarios. In his words, “if you restrict people’s choices and ignore their complaints about the restriction, they will choose the least restrictive option.” That in no way demonstrates public support, never mind Reeves’ outlandish fantasy of public demand.
  • Whenever the public is asked, via public opinion polls, about its top concerns, climate change doesn’t make the cut. Whenever the public is invited to rank competing priorities, climate change ends up near the bottom of the list. See my previous commentary, Decades of Public Opinion: Climate Change Not on the Radar
  • The Climate Change Express: Ignoring Your Views at Every Meal
  • Poll Results: Climate Is Always Low Priority
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This entry was posted on February 8, 2021 by in ethical & philosophical, media and tagged , .
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