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What is a Climate Assembly?

Climate Assemblies bring together a diverse group of everyday people selected by democratic lottery to learn, deliberate and make recommendations on aspects of the climate crisis.

The term “citizens’ assembly” is used in different ways and other bodies such as citizens’ juries have similar features.

KNOCA uses the term “citizens assemblies” in a broad sense to include any participatory process that combines democratic lottery, deliberation and decision making.
In this short video we walk you through the key features of Climate Assemblies.

Why Climate Assemblies?

The insights of everyday people can make climate policy more robust

Citizens bring a different way of looking at policy from those who work within climate governance communities. They can bring new ways of approaching problems and articulating solutions that are attuned to their interests, needs and attitudes.

Climate Assemblies can challenge embedded social and climate inequalities

Selection by democratic lottery ensures that everyday people with very different backgrounds are in the room. Established and powerful interests (fossil fuel lobbies, political parties, etc.) cannot dominate the deliberations.

Climate Assemblies can help break political deadlocks on climate action

Politicians across the world have been too slow to react to the climate crisis, despite the clarity of science on the need for action and the availability of policy tools. When given the chance to participate, citizens are often ahead of politicians, giving political leaders the confidence and willingness to take action.

Climate Assemblies can increase the legitimacy and public acceptance of social action on climate

As the transition to low-carbon futures unfold, it will impact people’s everyday lives more directly. Knowing that fellow citizens have been part of the decision-making processes increases public confidence and consent to challenging decisions.

Climate Assemblies can promote a more climate aware and politically confident citizenry

Through participation, everyday people learn more about the climate crisis and develop the skills and confidence to participate more fully in climate action at individual and collective levels.

Impacts of Climate Assemblies

The impact of climate Assemblies can take time and can be difficult to verify. KNOCA has developed an Impact Evaluation Framework to support more systematic collection of evidence of the impact of climate assemblies. A number of different impacts have been documented.

Impact on Policy

The Irish Climate Action Bill (2020) incorporated the majority of the recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly 2016-18.

The Climate and Resilience Bill (2021) translated a number of the measures proposed by the French Citizens’ Convention for the Climate into law, although many were in a modified form.

The updated National Energy and Climate Plan submitted to the European Commission by the Luxembourg government in 2023 incorporated new measures and strengthened existing measures based on the Luxembourg Climate Citizens’ Council.

Impact on Institutions

The Climate Change Committee in the UK used the recommendations from Climate Assembly UK to frame its Sixth Carbon Budget and has integrated deliberative methods into its work.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Climate Action established to consider the Irish Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations was made a permanent body.

The Danish Climate Assembly has been given same status as (sectoral) social partnerships.

Impact on the Public

The French Convention stimulated extensive public debate on both climate transition and the use of assemblies. The Convention played a significant role in raising the salience of climate as an issue that could not be ignored by politicians.  

The level of knowledge of the Austrian Citizens’ Climate Assembly (2022) amongst the public was fairly high. By the end of the process, over 50 percent of the Austrian population had heard of the Klimarat with over 90 percent finding out via the media. A large majority of citizens were in favour of the assembly and wanted political actors to use the recommendations of the Klimarat as a yardstick for climate policy.

Impact on Participants

Strong and consistent effects on the attitudes and behaviours of members towards climate action can be found across almost all assemblies, with evidence from Climate Assembly UK that this is sustained and even enhanced over time.   

Map of Climate Assemblies

KNOCA is mapping national and regional/local Climate Assemblies across Europe. If you see one that is missing, please send us the details at While KNOCA primarily focuses on climate assemblies, this map also includes examples of assemblies that address issues around environment and biodiversity. We’ve added these where climate change has been an explicit part of their mandate or their thematic proximity to climate change offers opportunities for comparison.

Key Features of Climate Assemblies

We are still learning about how best to organise Climate Assemblies – that’s why KNOCA has been established. Climate Assemblies share a number of key features, although how they are realised in practice differs.

In the report, “Climate Assemblies – Key Features”, we summarise what we know about these different features, drawing particularly on the experience of national-level Climate Assemblies.
Key Features of Climate Assemblies and Brief Guidance
@ ICA / The Irish Citizens’ Assembly (An Tionól Saoránach)

Where to Begin: Organising a Climate Assembly

So, you think you want to organise a Climate Assembly? Where are you on your journey?

Are you trying to promote the idea of a Climate Assembly? Are you thinking about commissioning a Climate Assembly? Or has the decision been made to run an assembly and you are trying to find guidance about what to do next?

In the draft guidance "How to organise a Climate Assembly: FAQs", we answer some of the most frequently-asked questions.
@  Jemima Stubbs / (UK Peoples Plan for Nature)
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