Citizen Assemblies
Jill Rennicke, Alumni Coordinator

Climate change is an issue that affects all of us. Decisions about how to combat climate change often seem to be made with little or no public input. This can lead to less effective decision-making, public mistrust of government, and less compliance. Laura Berry (CS3 Fall 2011) thinks it is time for that to stop.

That was Berry’s message recently as she addressed members of the Prince Edward Island’s standing committee on Climate Change. Speaking by Skype, Berry, who represents an advocacy group known as Climate Mobilization, told the committee, "When we're dealing with issues like sea-level rise, erosion, extreme weather and increased temperatures, public participation is going to be incredibly important to help chart this clear path forward." Berry suggested that the committee form “citizen assemblies” of around fifty everyday citizens to get their perspective, ideas, and buy-in to any decisions before they are made public.

"There's actually currently a pretty high level of public distrust of environmental decision-making,” Berry told the committee. By bringing the public into the process early, she hopes that some of that mistrust can be avoided creating stronger public support for climate change action and greater compliance with new, important regulations.

Berry’s appearance before the standing committee of Prince Edward Island and her unique, commonsense approach to governmental input caught the attention of the media. For a look at an article further detailing the meeting and Berry’s ideas, click here