Over 1,000 protesters blocked roads around Parliament on 31 October calling for urgent action on climate change. The action saw 15 protesters arrested and was the launch of an “escalating campaign of civil disobedience”. This came the day after a major report warning that population sizes of most forms of animal wildlife have decreased by 60% globally since 1970. And two days after the Tory chancellor unveiled a budget which did not mention climate change, nor move towards tackling it.
Almost all of £30 billion invested in transport has been in roads, rather than public transport. There is a planned 95% decrease in investment in renewables between 2017 and 2020. Protests like 31 October’s, led by “Extinction Rebellion” — a campaign in turn run by “Rising Up!” — demand that the government, working with the media, communicates the gravity of the situation and the urgency for change. That it enacts policies to make UK at least carbon neutral by 2025, and co-operates internationally on sustainable resource usage. They demand a “Citizen’s Assembly” is formed to oversee these changes, comprised of citizens randomly selected by lot, rather than elected.
Bold demands on the government to positively enact necessary changes — rather than simply stopping a few bad things — are a fresh and vital change from the often defensive politics common on the left. Extinction Rebellion are right to be concerned about democracy, but their proposition is not democratic. Allocation by lot removes the ability of wider movements to place pressure on their representatives to keep them accountable, instead placing random and unaccountable people technically in charge. With random selection by lot, the net result is an unorganised selection of random, transient and unaccountable individuals.
Orientating towards workplaces is more democratic, as most of the necessary changes to tackle climate change will require radically transforming industries. This should be led by the workers in these industries. Beyond that, we should aim for a federated system of workplace and community councils, electing recallable delegates.