Are citizen juries and assemblies on climate change driving democratic climate policymaking? An exploration of two case studies in the UK
In light of increasing pressure to deliver climate action targets and the growing role of citizens in raising the importance of the issue, deliberative democratic processes (e.g. citizen juries and citizen assemblies) on climate change are increasingly being used to provide a voice to citizens in climate change decision-making. Through a comparative case study of two processes that ran in the UK in 2019 (the Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury and the Oxford Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change), this paper investigates how far citizen assemblies and juries are increasing citizen engagement on climate change and creating more citizen-centred climate policymaking. Interviews were conducted with policymakers, councillors, professional facilitators and others involved in running these processes to assess motivations for conducting these, their structure and the impact and influence they had. The findings suggest the impact of these processes is not uniform: they have an indirect impact on policy making by creating momentum around climate action and supporting the introduction of pre-planned or pre-existing policies rather than a direct impact by truly being citizen-centred policy making processes or conducive to new climate policy. We conclude with reflections on how these processes give elected representatives a public mandate on climate change, that they help to identify more nuanced and in-depth public opinions in a fair and informed way, yet it can be challenging to embed citizen juries and assemblies in wider democratic processes.
Wells, R., Howarth, C. & Brand-Correa, L.I. Are citizen juries and assemblies on climate change driving democratic climate policymaking? An exploration of two case studies in the UK. Climatic Change 168, 5 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-03218-6