Oftentimes it feels like regular citizens have little to no say in national or state-level politics. That’s why we’re excited to share news out of Washington state where a new assembly is being formed that will allow 80 randomly-selected members of the public to have a direct say on climate matters in the state.
Although this has never been done in the US, we reported in 2019 about a similar initiative in Ireland called The Citizens’ Assembly in which 99 randomly-selected citizens are tasked with weighing in on particular issues and creating recommendations for how the government can deal with those issues. The Citizens’ Assembly spearheaded Ireland’s vote to overturn an abortion ban in 2018, and a similarly-formatted assembly in Ireland has been providing recommendations on climate action based on the latest climate change research since 2019.
In an attempt to welcome more voices of the public to the policy-making table, Washington is creating a similar climate assembly formed out of randomly-selected state residents from every congressional district. Members of the assembly will be learning about climate change and discussing the issue, and are required to provide recommendations to the state legislature by March.
“It’s going to hinge on getting people from different ideological perspectives to talk and be informed and come to some consensus,” said State Rep. Jake Fey, a Democrat from Tacoma.
With the formation of the country’s first climate assembly in Washington, the state hopes to develop innovative solutions for pollution and educate more people about the real consequences of climate change.