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Citizens’ Assemblies on climate change: Lessons from the UK

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What was on offer?

If you had an interest in participatory and deliberative democracy or public engagement with government policy, you could have heard more and discuss the use of Citizens' Assemblies for climate change. Citizens' assemblies bring together a group of people who are broadly representative of a population to learn and deliberate about a topic and then make recommendations for action.

There is growing interest from governments, parliaments and civil society in using citizens' assemblies as a way to involve people in policy development. This online session presented key findings from independent research into two recent citizens' assemblies: the Climate Assembly UK and the Scottish Climate Assembly.

The assemblies were set the following questions to consider:

  • How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?
  • How should the UK meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?

What was it about?

The research into the UK and Scotland climate assemblies investigates how well these assemblies have worked, in terms of process, outcomes and impact; important findings as more climate assemblies are planned across the UK and internationally.

We learned about the extent to which climate assemblies provide meaningful participation in policy development, the similarities and differences and gain insight into the strengths and limitations of the approaches used in researching climate assemblies. We also had the opportunity to discuss these findings with the lead researchers involved.

Who was leading the event?

Dr Nadine Andrews, Visiting Researcher at the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University and Scottish Government research lead on Scotland’s Climate Assembly.  

Dr Stephen Elstub, Reader in British Politics in the School of Geography, Politics & Sociology at Newcastle University, lead researcher on Climate Assembly UK and member of Scotland’s Climate Assembly research team.


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