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The Long-Term Impact of Participation in Climate Assemblies: Evidence from the UK

January 19, 2023

Involve, in partnership with Newcastle University, has published ground-breaking findings on the impact of participation on the members of Climate Assembly UK (CAUK). Their survey results suggest that taking part in CAUK has had a positive long-term impact on both members’ views and actions towards climate.

In a blog discussing the research, Sarah Allan, one of the leads for CAUK, highlights a number of findings she feels are particularly significant:

  • Assembly members’ concern about climate change continued to increase, even after the assembly had finished.
  • Many assembly members made changes in their own lives following the assembly.
  • Assembly members with very different backgrounds, experiences and opinions have made similar numbers of changes.
  • Assembly members are still enthusiastic about citizens’ assemblies.

She also highlights tentative findings about changes in assembly members’ political attitudes and actions since the assembly finished its work, with increases in political activities but reductions in their belief that they have a say in what the UK Parliament does and that the UK political system works well.

These findings throw up many interesting questions. The first is obviously whether they are replicated across assemblies. Here we have a paucity of data. The tendency to only evaluate the process and immediate impact of assemblies means we have little knowledge of long-term impacts, whether this is on members’ attitudes and behaviours, or on climate governance and broader public debate. Involve and Newcastle University’s findings reinforce KNOCA’s development and promotion of an impact evaluation framework that can be applied to capture impacts over time.

If assemblies do have a long-term impact on shaping more active climate-conscious citizens, then it raises questions for commissioners and organisers of assemblies and other stakeholders such as climate NGOs as to whether and how to engage members post-assembly. Their experience marks them out as potentially important players in climate governance and wider public debates on climate.

For Sarah, we should also investigate what the driver for such changes might be within assemblies and whether elements of climate assembly practice can be scaled up to have wider effects on the broader publics: “‘how small can you go’ whilst still providing a powerful experience for participants?”

Like Sarah at Involve, KNOCA is keen to hear whether anyone else has similar data or is interested in exploring the role that members might play in climate governance post-assembly.

Read Sarah’s blog, Climate assembly members think and act differently on climate, two years on..

Download the full report and the report annexes:

After Climate Assembly UK: did the views and behaviours of assembly members change?DownloadReport annexesDownload

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