1. TELL THE TRUTH about the climate crisis and the ecological emergency that are threatening our survival. Make people aware of the need for fundamental change.
We are facing an unprecedented global emergency that we are responsible for ourselves. Human activity has already caused the atmosphere to warm by 1.1 °C, and a sixth wave of mass extinction of life on Earth has been triggered that imminently threatens the survival of one million plant and animal species. Sea-level rise, forest fires, heat waves, extreme storms and severe droughts threaten communities all over the world and affect the health, food supply and drinking water of millions of people. The risk of irreversible chain reactions (‘tipping points’) in the breakdown of climate and ecological systems is getting higher every day. As current targets and concrete measures to reduce emissions are far from adequate, we are now heading for catastrophic level of global warming of at least 3°C. For decades, climate scientists and activists have been warning of our climate and ecosystems breaking down, and for decades, politicians have been telling us things will be alright. Instead of urging citizens and businesses to act, they have offered nothing but positive resolutions and promises.This way, they kept up the illusion that our safety was not at stake and that we still had plenty of time to address the situation. But the fundamental transition that is required is only possible when we face the severity of the pending climate apocalypse in full and take concrete measures as our benchmark.
It is the government’s constitutional duty to protect its citizens and the environment, and therefore to be honest about the crisis that is threatening us. The government must declare a climate and ecological emergency and actively communicate the need for rapid and profound change. In doing so, it must recognize that the ecological and climate disaster we are facing poses an existential threat that should have the highest priority and that requires fundamental changes in our society and economy.
2. ACT NOW and do what is necessary to stop the loss of biodiversity and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. Do so in a fair and equitable manner.
The climate crisis is already causing the destruction of nature and communities around the world, and this will only get worse with every tenth degree of additional warming. In the meantime, the ecosystems on which our existence depends are being destroyed by human activity. The opportunity for a slow, gradual transition has been squandered after decades of dithering without concrete action. We have a sacred duty to future generations and to communities around the world to prevent avoidable suffering. Therefore, the government must immediately set binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to stop environmental degradation by 2025. The Dutch government’s response to the crisis has been far from adequate. Time and again, it fails to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and to meet its own reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Coping with this emergency will require unprecedentedly rapid and profound change in all facets of our society and economy. While it is a challenge to reduce CO2 emissions to net zero by 2025, we must focus on what is actually necessary to ensure the safety of Dutch citizens as well as communities around the world. The Earth’s atmosphere does not make concessions, and neither should we.
The transition to a zero-emissions economy must consider the interests of the most vulnerable groups, both in the Netherlands and around the world. The climate crisis has disproportionately large impacts on poor and marginalized communities. The Netherlands’ historical and current responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions and environmental damage, as well as its prosperity and its technological opportunities, means that the Netherlands should take a leading role in the transition. It must ensure that this transition will be fair and equitable.
3. LET CITIZENS DECIDE on a fair and equitable transition by establishing a Citizens’ Assembly that will play a leading role in decision-making.
See our Citizens’ Assembly Guide for more information on the concept of a Citizens’ Assembly.
With a due mandate by Parliament, a randomly selected, representative group of citizens is appointed. This Citizens’ Assembly shall consider appropriate public policies to achieve the required targets by 2025 in a fair and equitable manner. The participants shall be informed by experts and stakeholders in a reliable and balanced manner, and shall in smaller groups deliberate openly and under competent supervision, ultimately deciding on proposals for concrete policies. The crisis is turned out to be too big and too complex to leave to a government that has failed to act for decades. Under the influence of powerful corporate lobbying efforts and politicians’ dependency on favourable media coverage, both Parliament and consecutive Cabinets have been unable to initiate a rapid and equitable transition.
A Citizens’ Assembly can break out of this impasse. It empowers citizens to take the lead in the transition and allows politicians to instigate radical measures without fear of political retaliation. It gives a voice to groups that are otherwise excluded from political decision-making and ensures that the burden of resolving the crisis is shared fairly and equitably. On the basis of balanced scientific advice and free from political influence, participants in a Citizens’ Assembly will be able to make well-considered decisions in the public interest.
Citizens’ Assemblies are nothing new. It is a democratic instrument par excellence that has already been deployed successfully in countries including Belgium, Canada, India, Ireland and Poland to realize ambitious goals and progressive policies. As such, it is particularly suitable within the traditionally participatory political culture of the Netherlands.
Additional sources on Citizens Assemblies
- The Correspondent: Protests? Check. Plans? Check. Now the climate needs more democracy and perseverance
- De Correspondent: Democratic renewal: so it is possible
- The Correspondent: More than a public participation night, better than a referendum: with this democratic innovation, citizens can make their own policies
- NOS: Henceforth, draws instead of votes?
- Extinction Rebellion UK – Citizens’ Assembly Podcast
- Rebel Radio, Extinction Rebellion Nederland
- Democracy is like a garden, you need to always tend it, it is never done by Tend it like a Garden
- Lecture by Justice Mary Laffoy, Chair of The Citizens’ Assembly by RTÉ
- Nu het nog kan, Extinction Rebellion, edited by Eva Rovers
- Against Elections, David van Reybrouck (available in English and Dutch)
- Democratic Innovations, Graham Smith
Web sites and organizations