A democracy fit for climate action: Insights on Earth Day


Tackling the climate crisis requires big changes to how we do things. And this means changes to how we do politics too. 

A group of people stand at the top of a hill looking out towards a sunset

At the Democracy Network, we’re bringing together those who are working to secure a democracy fit for the 21st century, one where people and communities have more influence, power, and resources for community improvement, political accountability, engagement and decision-making.

Why is this important? Because democracy affects all our lives. It impacts the decisions made every day, decisions about transport, schools, housing, health and of course, our environment. If we want better decisions, then we need and deserve a better politics.

The urgency of addressing the climate crisis has never been more apparent. Most of us agree, climate change, if left unchecked, will wreak havoc on our planet, our communities, and our human systems in ways we can’t even fully comprehend yet. In the last year alone, we’ve seen the devastating toll it can take — tens of thousands dead in floods, wildfires raging out of control, and record-breaking heatwaves scorching the earth.

And it’s not just about the immediate impacts. We’re also facing long-term challenges, like rising sea levels that threaten to swallow up entire communities and businesses struggling to stay afloat under the weight of historically high energy bills.

Climate change is not just an environmental issue—it’s a crisis that touches every aspect of our lives. So as we grapple with these challenges, it’s essential to recognise the importance of the need for a stronger democracy, to meet the growing need.

In order to effectively address climate change, we need a democracy that is responsive, inclusive, and capable of facilitating meaningful action at all levels of society.

In order to effectively address climate change, we need a democracy that is responsive, inclusive, and capable of facilitating meaningful action at all levels of society. This means rethinking traditional models of governance and embracing innovative approaches that prioritise sustainability, equity, and resilience.

So, on this Earth Day, let’s explore just a few of the ideas for how we could begin transforming our democracy to better confront the climate crisis:

  1. Climate and Citizens Assemblies: These deliberative forums bring together diverse groups of people to discuss and make recommendations on climate-related issues. By fostering open dialogue and engaging citizens in the decision-making process, we can develop more informed and inclusive climate policies.
  2. Better Devolution: Empowering local areas with the authority and resources to take action on climate change is essential for driving meaningful progress. By decentralising decision-making, moving power away from Whitehall and Westminster, we can ensure that climate solutions are tailored to local needs and priorities.
  3. Protecting Our Right to Protest: The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental pillar of democracy and plays a crucial role in holding governments and corporations accountable for their actions on climate change. Defending this right is essential for fostering civic engagement and driving political change.
  4. A More Representative Democracy: Diversity and inclusion are essential principles for ensuring that our democratic institutions truly represent the interests of all citizens. By promoting greater diversity in political leadership and amplifying the voices of marginalised communities, we can build a democracy that is more responsive to the needs of society as a whole.
  5. Empowering Communities: Giving communities the power to shape their own destinies and chart their own paths to sustainability is key to building a resilient future. By investing in community-led initiatives and supporting grassroots organisations, we can foster a culture of collaboration and innovation that drives positive change from the ground up.

These are just a few ideas, that many of our members at the Democracy Network, work on, champion and campaign for every day. And whilst we might not secure every one of these ideas, overnight, it is clear is that, the solutions are out there so as we look to the future, let us commit ourselves to building a democracy that is fit for the challenges of the 21st century—a democracy that empowers citizens, protects the planet, and ensures a brighter future for all.


Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash