Global citizen consultation on climate change informed negotiations about Paris Agreement

World Wide Views on Climate and Energy engaged 10.000 citizens worldwide in a deliberative process to inform decision makers at COP21 about their views on climate policies.

Initiators: World Wide Views on Climate and Energy was co-initiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the French National Commission for Public Debate (FR), the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DK) and Missions Publiques (FR), with the support of the French Government, COP21 host.

Period: 2015-2016

Context
WWViews on Climate and Energy was initiated in order to give citizens worldwide a platform for stating their views on how to deal politically with climate change and the energy transition. While experts, industries, strong interest groups and NGOs have found ways to influence and interact with international negotiations, ordinary citizens have practically no role in this process. By introducing the views of citizens into the COP21 negotiation process and surrounding debates, policymakers had a better basis for making decisions in tune with informed public opinion. According to the UNFCCC Spokesperson and Coordinator Communications and Outreach, Nick Nuttall, “ acknowledged the impact of WWViews on Climate and Energy: “The supportive input from citizens through WWViews – together with input from cities, investors and many more – was part of the reason why we got a good outcome in Paris.

Method
On June 6 2015, 10,000 citizens in 76 countries gathered around the world to discuss some of the “hot topics” of the COP21 negotiation process. Participating citizens were chosen to reflect the demographic diversity in their country or region; they were given information in advance and on the WWViews Day; they had a full day of discussions with fellow citizens; and they voted individually on a set of questions designed in consultations, with governments, UNFCCC, experts, NGOs, and other interest groups. All results and material are available on our website, (see http://climateandenergy.wwviews.org/), where comparisons can be made between countries, regions, and negotiation groups.

Danish Board of Technology Foundations’ role

The project was coordinated by the Danish Board of Technology in collaboration with Missions Publiques and the French National Commission for Public Debate and implemented by existing and new partners in the World Wide Views Alliance.

This method can be used to involve a representative segment citizens in one country or several, e.g. on EU policy initiatives or UN negotiations. It allows for comparison and statistical presentation of data from global citizen engagements.

Results

Based on the answers given by the 10.000 citizens who participated in this project, 12 recommendations were presented to an assortment of global politicians during the COP21 in Paris:

  • Citizens worldwide want their leaders to commit to ambitious climate action, now.
  • Citizens want zero emissions by the 2100.
  • The COP21 agreement needs to open up a credible path to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. These commitments must be legally binding and subject to control.
  • Climate change is an opportunity to improve the quality of life, rather than a burden.
  • Introduce carbon taxes and invest in renewable energy.
  • Citizens from high- or low-income countries mostly agree on how to deal with climate change; the north/south gap is closing.
  • Countries should assume responsibilities based on their individual capabilities and emission levels.
  • All countries must take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The private sector should contribute significantly to climate finances.
  • High-income countries should increase their climate finance commitments, as well as contribute more to mitigation and adaptation in low-income countries.
  • Citizens want to take man active part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • They also expect to be to take part in deciding on climate politics.