The Danish Citizens’ Assembly on climate change

November 3, 2020

82 citizens provide solutions to climate change

The climate crisis is crying out for solutions that have both popular and political roots. The climate crisis is also urgent – we do not have time to wait to get started and all the actors in our society are going to work hard for the next several decades.

 

Climate Law

With the Climate Act comes a national Citizens’ Assemblies consisting of 82 randomly selected citizens are now invited to work in depth on solutions to climate challenges and give recommendations to the responsible politicians. The Danish Board of Technology cooperates with the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities on climate citizenship.

 

The Process of the Citizens’ Collection

Over three weekend sessions in autumn 2020, the 82 completely different and randomly selected citizens, young and old, men and women, well-off and under-welled, urban and rural, together need to learn about the complex climate dilemmas. The citizen’s office is assisted by a large number of experts along the way, and in October they are ready with their recommendations to the danish minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities Dan Jørgensen and the Energy, Utilities and Climate Change Committee.

At the end of 2019, the Danish Board of Technology has developed the concept for the citizen’s union, and in 2020 is in charge of creating a program for and facilitating the autumn’s citizens’ collections.

 

Terms of the process

There are, of course, challenges to the conduct of the perfectly and ideal Civic. This includes the timing of connecting to the fast-moving climate train, as well as time and resources for planning and settlement. However, the Ministry and the Danish Board of Technology are launching a climate civic thing that is adapted to the conditions of COVID-19, creating a new and exciting framework for a representative segment of the population to provide input into climate action plans and the green transition.

 

In the light of the 2020 elevated infected numbers and new corona guidelines, what was launched as three physical weekend collections in mid-2020 was transformed into a purely online format for the Citizen Assembly. Despite this change, a large proportion of the selected citizens have agreed to take part in the work. The number of citizens who have participated in the first meetings is 82.

 

Experience with citizen involvement

It is our experience from 30 years of work with this kind of citizen involvement that offers some solid and long-term solutions also to difficult societal challenges.

The climate Civic is the first ever national Civic in Denmark. However, the working method and other deliberative processes of democracy are not new in Denmark. Civics as a method is a further development of other democracy models called mini-publics, which emerged in the 1980s. One of the most widely used mini-publics is the Consensus Conference method, which has been developed by the Danish Board ofTechnology and has since been used in many places internationally.

 

In Denmark, the Danish Parliament, Regions and Government agencies have held dozens of consensus conferences and citizens’ summits on everything from coastal protection, agriculture, health, genetic engineering to driving taxes. Citizens’ things, consensus conferences and citizens’ summits belong to the same category of so-called deliberative processes of democracy. The methods are very good at engaging citizens in creating solutions to societal challenges that are not easy to find a solution of. With citizen involvement, citizens are given joint responsibility for the solutions, while the final decisions will of course remain with our elected politicians.

 

Read more about OECDS study of Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions (https://www.oecd.org)