Deliberative Climate Politics: from citizens’ assemblies to responsive democratic systems?
From Nicole Bergman
Are citizens’ assemblies a solution to solve two pressing crises: democratic dissatisfaction and climate emergency? The Citizens’ Convention for Climate, and the Great National Debate in France, or the Conference on the Future of Europe, were attempts presented as new initiatives. Recently, many climate assemblies are or have been organized at the national level, in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc. These large-scale processes bring together randomly selected ordinary citizens tasked to provide public policy recommendations, after hearing experts and stakeholders, and deliberating among themselves.
What are the promises, limitations, and risks of these democratic experimentations? Is there a deliberative specificity for climate policies, where non-elected representatives might be more concerned about long-term sustainability rather than re-election? These innovations, called mini-publics, indicate how difficult it is to reach high deliberative quality, considering moral pluralism, uncertainty, and the requirement of argumentation among different communicational capacities. Beyond citizens’ assemblies themselves, we must critically examine a possible necessity to move from deliberation in mini-publics to a true deliberative system, both pluralist and responsive.
Deborah Yashar, Donald E. Stokes Professor of Public and International Affairs; Professor of Politics and International Affairs; Director, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University
Bernard Reber, Senior Research Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Sciences Po Paris
Dimitri Courant, Postdoctoral research associate and Fung Global Fellow, PIIRS, Princeton University
Christopher H. Achen, Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences, Emeritus; Professor of Politics, Emeritus, Princeton University
Jan-Werner Müller, Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences; Professor of Politics; Founding Director, Project in the History of Political Thought, Princeton University