Leeds Climate Commission is running a citizens' jury in response to Leeds declaring a climate emergency (see this news story). Check out the Frequently Asked Questions below for information on the process.

What is a Citizens’ Jury?

A Citizens’ Jury is a way of involving members of the public to help make important decisions. It brings together a broadly representative group of some 25 members of the public who are randomly chosen. They talk about the issue, share ideas and eventually come up with a set of recommendations. They are helped by experienced ‘facilitators’ who make sure everyone has a fair say and that the task is achieved. During the sessions the facilitators will help to make people feel relaxed and able to take part.

Who are the organisers of the Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury?

The Citizens’ Jury is funded by the Leeds Climate Commission, an independent network of members working together to help Leeds take action on climate change. The Commission’s members are from over 30 of the city’s key organisations and businesses, including Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Earth, ITV, Yorkshire Water and many others.

To make sure that the Citizens’ Jury is in no way biased and unfair, a Citizens’ Jury oversight panel has been set up. People from the following organisations attend meetings of the panel: Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Leeds City Council, The Madina Town Movement, Our Future Leeds, Project Rome, Rachel Reeves MP, Racial Justice Network, University of Leeds, Yorkshire Water, Youth Strike for Climate. The next meeting of the oversight panel is 29 August 2019.

When will the Jury take place?

The Citizens’ Jury will take place over eight evenings starting on September 12th as well as an all-day session in early November.

What will happen during the Jury?

The first few sessions will start with an opportunity for people to work in small groups and pairs to think through what climate change means to Leeds and what steps are being taken to address the problem. We will also hear more about the science of climate change from some experts. The group will then be joined by a series of ‘commentators’ who are experienced experts. A question and answer session will follow their presentations and afterwards we will talk about what we heard. Finally, the jury will discuss and write their own set of recommendations on the last day. 

What question will the jury consider?

The overarching question is ‘What should Leeds do about the emergency of climate change?’ The oversight panel agreed that the question needs to be sufficiently open to allow a range of perspectives to be explored and will discuss in subsequent meetings any possible sub-questions that may help structure the jury’s work.

Who will run the Jury?

The two facilitators (Pete Bryant and Jenny Willis) are from a not-for-profit organisation called Shared Future and have much experience of running Citizens’ Juries across the UK. The Shared Future website has lots of information on previous Citizens’ Jury processes.

Will Jury members receive anything for taking part?

Yes, we recognise that this is a big commitment. Everyone that attends every session will get a total of £250 in vouchers. The vouchers are ‘High Street vouchers’, for use in a large number of stores and for some online shopping.

Do people have to take part?

Taking part is completely voluntary. The Jury is a new way for us to work with the public to help inform decisions.

Why is the Citizens’ Jury being organised?

Many people are switched off from politics today. But, when people are given the time, space and information (from a variety of sources) through the use of Citizens’ Juries or Assemblies, experience shows that members of the public will develop sensible and well-informed recommendations. This is what we aim to do for Leeds.

Most people accept climate change is real but are unsure what it means for them and what impacts it will have on where they live. In March, Leeds City Council declared a climate emergency. The Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury is one of several ways that Leeds residents can share their views on how people and organisations of Leeds could take action to respond to the emergency of climate change. In deciding how we in Leeds best address this enormous problem it is essential that we hear directly from the residents of Leeds.

How are people chosen?

Through the Citizens’ Jury we aim to recruit a diverse, broadly representative group of local residents who reflect the local population to discuss and make recommendations on how we best address the emergency of climate change.

We have worked with the Sortition Foundation (an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes the use of stratified, random selection in decision-making) to design the recruitment process. From August 10th 4000 households across Leeds will receive a recruitment letter explaining the citizens Jury and inviting those who are interested to either complete a very simple online form or use a freephone number to register their interest. The Sortition Foundation have randomly selected the 4000 addresses from the Royal Mail’s address database.

The closing date is August 27. After this date the Sortition Foundation will randomly select 25 participants, from those who have expressed an interest, at the same time making sure that the profile of the 25 people selected reflects local diversity in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, disability and geography. The profile also aims to include representation from across different levels of multiple deprivation across Leeds.

Will people be identified as a member of the Citizens’ Jury?

The names of the members of the Citizens’ Jury will not be published.

Who will present to the jury and how will they be selected?

An important part of any Citizens’ Jury or Assembly process is the role of the commentator (or expert witness).  The commentator presents information to the members of the jury and is then questioned or cross-examined.

One of the main functions of the oversight panel is to identify and agree upon suitable commentators for the jury. If members of the oversight panel are unable to agree on which commentators are suitable for presenting on a particular topic it may be the case that more than one commentator is invited.

How accessible will the Citizens’ Jury be?

All people selected to attend the Citizens’ Jury will be contacted directly to discuss any support needs.  There is a budget to cover any childcare costs, language support or other support needs. The venue will be wheelchair accessible. We will also pay travel expenses.

What will happen after the Jury?

The recommendations will be written by the Jury members in their own words. These recommendations will become the central part of a report that will also include a detailed explanation of the process followed. The recommendations will guide the future work of the Leeds Climate Commission and will be presented to the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee of Leeds City Council. The report will also be presented to a range of organisations across the city. A communications group is already meeting to consider how best to get a high profile for this project.

Image: Shared Future