Demand A Future – Night Forum On Climate Emergency: People’s Assembly Produces a Mandate for Change

On Friday 21st June, Extinction Rebellion York brought together people and communities from across the city in a People’s Assembly to build a vision of what a zero carbon York might look like. The forum collectively produced a people’s Mandate for Change, which will be presented to City of York Council on Thursday 27th June.

Following the declaration of a climate emergency by City of York Council on 21st March, the People’s Assembly considered how the residents of York can work together without constraints to mitigate and respond to climate crisis. After hearing a series of short talks, attendees were invited to join one of six discussion groups: energy, food, economy, housing, environment, and movement. Each group considered how their sector should respond to the climate emergency, before discussing and agreeing their ideas with the whole Assembly.

Key areas of discussion during the People’s Assembly included free public transport in the city centre, the need for new residential buildings to meet Passivhaus standards, reforesting efforts, and the argument that environmental initiatives should go beyond carbon neutrality and become carbon negative, making more clean renewable energy than they use.

All the points that were raised and agreed during the People’s Assembly are being compiled into a Mandate for Change. This document offers a mandate from the people of York for national and local government, businesses, organisations and groups, and one another. The Mandate for Change will be presented to councillors before the next Executive meeting on 27th June, following a procession from Museum Gardens beginning at 4.30pm. The mandate will also be made available to read online.

The People’s Assembly was part of Demand A Future – Night Forum On Climate Emergency, held at York Explore Library from 4.00-11.00pm. The event also involved workshops and stalls from organisations including Stockholm Environment Institute, Real Scientists, Converge York, Edible York, Abundance York and Stand Up To Racism, as well as performances from artists such as singer-songwriter duo Union Jill, theatre company Destruction and Beauty and multi-award-winning performance eco-poet Anneliese Emmans Dean. Guests were invited to share ideas, take part in activities and get to know each other.

Throughout the evening, Demand A Future was attended by over 400 people, while approximately 200 people took part in the People’s Assembly. The participants included representatives from various local community groups, charities, organisations and faith groups, as well as several City of York councillors.

Green Party councillor Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of City of York Council, said: “It’s been a really great evening, with the opportunity to talk about a whole range of topics.”

Labour councillor Kallum Taylor tweeted: “To have so many people there, and so engaged, on a Friday evening, was incredible. […] Great to have had that space created for so many to meet like minded people and hear what they prioritise, as well as listen and learn from experts in the field.”

Phoebe, a ten-year-old attending the event, said: “I liked everyone coming together. Climate change affects everyone – if I have children, and my children have children, there won’t be as much wildlife for them.”

It is hoped that Demand A Future will set a precedent for more local engagement with the climate emergency in York and encourage other communities to do the same.