Sarah: And with that, I will introduce our first speaker, Chris Stark.
Chris Stark: Thank you very much indeed. Are you all full? Fed and watered? Good. This is where it gets tricky. No, it doesn't. This is, this is... we're going to, we're going to take a left turn now. When you hear about some of the issues that we were discussing this morning, it could be very, very tempting to jump straight to the fixes, the things that we can do to fix it. So the technical solutions, and we had some questions and answers about those things earlier. What we're going to try and do now, you know, is a bit of a pause. So this session is designed very much as pause to get you thinking about some of the wider implications of climate change. Now, we have called this the ‘ethical considerate considerations of climate change’. That's that's a big word. It doesn't necessarily fit exactly what we're going to talk about. We're going to talk about the broader implications, if I could put it that way, about all the things that you will be doing over the next four weekends. What you hear in this slot might cause you to think differently about the challenges you'll be exploring afterwards. That's OK. I hope it will get you to think and reflect about your own views about the issue itself – what we should be doing here in the UK about the topics that you've heard about and what's causing it. This is a sort of a sneak preview of the kind of things we're going to discuss. So we're going to talk about some pretty fundamental questions. Things like why should we act now? What's fear when it comes to acting? Who is responsible for what? How do we decide which actions are sufficient? You think about society, for example. What motivates people to really act? These are really important questions, and they're all really important to the things that you'll be talking about in this Citizens Assembly.#
A lot of what we're talking about – at least some of the things – you might summarise as morals: morally right, morally wrong. And therefore in this room you're going to have a whole set of views about what that means, and that's quite alright. We are not going to all agree on those things. There are so many different ways to look at the topics that we're going to discuss today. This is going to be just a very quick intro to some of them. And in a moment you're going to hear from this very fine panel of speakers who are all definitely going to keep to five minutes, aren't you? And they're here to give their personal opinion, and that means it is their personal opinion. And you know, you may not agree with that, so that's OK – that's, that's OK too. Before we get into this, and I'll go through these questions in a second, I just want to say something that might seem very obvious. And that is that we do not all share the same view about really important things: values and beliefs. We will all have our own personal values. We will all have our own personal beliefs. That might lead you, for example, to think about the issues in totally different ways. So think about, for example, the outlook you sometimes get from religion. And I'm not suggesting that this should be your outlook, but it's one take on it. So quite often a religious take on these things is that we are stewards of the environment, stewards of the earth, and actually some of the things that we're talking about are more of a moral duty than anything else. That maybe your view, it might not be your view. You might think about some of things that you hear about as more of a threat. Be that a threat to the society we have, or even the actions themselves might be a threat to your way of life. That’s OK and I encourage you to think about that too – they’re really valid considerations. They matter – all these values and beliefs – because they affect our motivation to act on climate change. And that's really what we're getting at here. So I hope you'll think of all this as you go on and please, again, don't think for a second that there's some right answer to any of this. That's really the point of this thing is to get you to just think about your own outlook on these topics and then question a bit how you're feeling about it.#
So let's very briefly go through these seven points, and I'll just do my best to explain what they mean. The first is liberty mandatory action. This is really about government action. So let me just briefly explain what I mean by that. There's a discussion that has rumbled on for a long time in politics, not just about climate change, but in general about the ways in which governments intervene in our lives. And that is particularly the case in climate change. So some people will favour more direct action from government. You might be one of them. Others will feel that actually government should be much more light touch on these topics. Have a think about that as you hear what we're going to talk about this afternoon and beyond. You sometimes hear this topic as being sort of either/or – government versus markets – that kind of thing. My take on this is that it's more a question of emphasis. So there's room for both of those outlooks, so try not to be too binary in your outlook on these things. So there's a role for a government, there’s a role for private sector, there’s a role for individuals, and all of this.#
The second of these is distributional fairness, which is a very fancy way of saying that we have to think about how we distribute the impacts of climate change and the benefits of acting on climate change and indeed the benefits of and disbenefits of acting on climate change overall. And let me just give you a quick take on this. The people who are most vulnerable to the direct effects of global climate change are often those who are least able to change the course of climate change. Now that might seem an obvious thing to say, but it's worth processing. So some people, some communities, some countries suffer the negative impacts of climate change despite having made very little contribution to the problem overall. So historically it's rich countries like the UK, like the US, who have made extensive use of fossil fuels. We heard this morning that that's creating this kind of cumulative issue of emissions in the atmosphere which is driving global warming and climate change. We've benefited from doing that, so those fossil fuels have driven the economy in the UK. We have become rich on the basis of that, as have other countries of the world. A question you might have in your mind is why should we deny other countries the right to do the same thing? So that's a real question of fairness that sits above all of these things. Should some places actually be permitted to continue to use fossil fuels after others have stopped? That's another critical point in all of this. Closer to home, you might think about climate change and the things that we need to do. And some of those things will have to carry additional costs for people living in this country. And this is going to be such an important topic that you will consider. So think of, for example, energy bills. The fact that we might put higher costs or higher taxes on those fossil fuels that people are consuming at the moment. Those additional costs, if they’re not managed well, risk falling more heavily on those who earn less. So that's another distributional question overall. That's another thing. All of these things are summed up, and it's a massive topic in distributional fairness. It's basically question of how you distribute the negative impacts of climate change and the cost of tackling it. It is also about that question of what's fair in the distribution of the benefits of the actions that cause climate change. So the benefits of fossil fuels, for example, spreading those out.#
Third is intergenerational fairness. So the impact of climate change is something we are feeling right now, so we’ve talked about that this morning. But the impacts in the future are likely to be greater if we don't take steps now. So that gives you this intergenerational question. A few important thoughts on this. Those who act now might not see the benefits in the future. Which raises an interesting question about the motivation to do something about that. The young people today who will experience greatest negative impacts of climate change in the future, are also amongst those who are least able to tackle the problem, not in the position to do so. A further complication is that those who historically caused this problem that we're talking about today didn't know they were doing so at the time. So the use of fossil fuels wasn't something that we talked about in these climate change terms at the time, it was much more about growing the economy and developing the economy and that was very positive discussion, it wasn't something that was done maliciously. So this consideration, the intergenerational point, is about how much should be expected of us now for the sake of the well-being of future generations.#
I'm gonna go quicker now. So number four is about co-benefits and trade-offs. This is very simple to explain that the steps that we will take to cut emissions, of course, impact on emissions. But they have a set of wider impacts too. some of those things you could describe as trade-offs, some of them you might describe as co-benefits. Let me give you an example of that. We might want to grow a lot of trees. That's a legitimate strategy for cutting emissions because they soak up the carbon in the atmosphere. But that could be at the expense of land that might be used for producing food. So that's a trade-off. And this presents lots of these kind of trade-offs overall. People, I’m sure, in this room will have different views about some of those things, which is really what I want to think about if we can. There are also some what people call co-benefits too, and the most obvious of those is health and air quality. So if we cut emissions in cities, for example, by stopping the use of petrol and diesel and cars, we have a benefit beyond the climate in the form of better air quality, improved health of people who breathe the air.#
Five is the ‘just transition’, and I put that in inverted commas because it is a term that is used extensively. But it's got kind of its own connotation. I just wanted to explain roughly what it means. Tackling climate change means reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As you've heard already, that involves a whole lot of changes, particularly in industry and that will change patterns of employment. So how we manage those changes in employment is a really important thing and doing it fairly is what the just transition is all about.#
Six is the precautionary principle. And that is very simply about the risk of climate change and some of the things that we don't know. So in particular, we know something about climate change very, very clearly, that as we grow the stock of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere the temperature increases. But we are less sure, although we do know a lot about it, we're less sure about in particular some of the wider knock-on impacts of that. So think about melting glaciers and the impact on weather patterns for example. These are harder to predict, and there's a lot of risk in those things. So given that, the precautionary principle says that if we're worried about serious harm to humans in the natural world and even if we don't know all the answers, we should take precautions to avoid the worst outcome, even if there are some uncertainties about what might happen. That's the precautionary principle.#
And the last thing is a very important thing for everyone in this room. And therefore it's the last point I wanted to make. That's about procedural fairness. who should take part in the processes of decision making about the things that you'll be talking about? Is it vulnerable groups, for example? So think about older people, people with disability, people on low incomes, for example. Where is their voice in this discussion? There's minority groups – it might be because of race, because of religion. They may not have effective opportunities to voice their opinion on these things. So a question that sits above all of this is what processes do we put in place to try and bring about procedural fairness. Do we rely on governments and parliaments to do that? Or do we do more of this kind of thing, this kind of more participative version of decision making and democracy? No right answers to any of this. But what I'm now going to do is hand over to this panel so they can give you some personal views about some of the topics that I've talked about. So I hand it to you first, Sarah.
Sarah: Thank you, Chris. So we're going to go straight on to our next speaker, and then we're going to have a chance to stop to write down questions.
Transcripts provided by Just Transcription. These transcripts have been automatically created and then reviewed by two editors. If you find an error in the transcription where it does not match the video, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.