99 citizens from all over Denmark have spent four months discussing possible solutions to the climate crisis in a citizens' assembly. On 10 February 2022, the randomly selected participants presented concrete recommendations and four key messages for an ambitious green transition.
The assembly members listened to experts, thought about, discussed and finally voted on how Denmark can best implement the desired transition. This work has resulted in 73 recommendations, which have now been handed over to the parliament and the government.
Broad range of issues
The Citizens' Assembly's recommendations cover a wide range of topics, including CO2 labelling of products, energy supply, agriculture, durable products, sustainable consumption and much more. The assembly has also formulated four key messages to Parliament: There is urgency, there needs to be more information, a CO2 tax needs to be introduced and the parliament should unite to take responsibility.
The members of the Climate Assembly had been selected to best represent the entire population in terms of regions, age, gender, education and profession.
Thanks from the Climate Minister
Climate Minister Dan Jørgensen received the Citizens' Assembly recommendations for the government: "I would like to thank the members from the bottom of my heart for their thorough and interesting recommendations. I look forward to reading them carefully and being inspired by them in my work for climate action. I am sure there will be recommendations that will be translated into concrete action," he said.
The Climate Assembly will meet with the Minister and the Parliamentary Committee on Climate, Energy and Utilities for a workshop in spring 2022 to discuss the recommendations.
First series of meetings in 2020/21
A first series of meetings of the Climate Assembly had already taken place from autumn 2020 to the beginning of 2021 - online due to COVID-19. After five months of debates and discussions, the work of the Citizens' Assembly had resulted in 119 concrete recommendations for green change on 29 April 2021, which had been handed over to the parliamentary committee on climate, energy and energy policy and the parliamentary committee on climate, energy and utilities. The recommendations included proposals ranging from climate crisis education in primary schools to climate taxes, new eating habits and a green constitution.
The second series of seven sessions of the Citizens' Assembly has taken place both in face-to-face meetings and digitally from 30 October to 15 December 2021. After the end of the first series of meetings in spring 2021, all assembly members had been invited to participate in the second series of meetings. 40 of the original members had signed up before the meeting dates were published. 32 of them were able to attend the set dates. The remaining members were newly recruited to the Citizens' Assembly with the help of Statistics Denmark.
Physical and online meetings
The physical meetings consisted of two weekend meetings where the assembly members met in Copenhagen and Aarhus respectively. In addition, the Citizens' Assembly had met for five digital evening meetings, which took place on weekday evenings. The last meeting had taken place on 15 December 2021. Here, the assembly members were able to vote on the drafted texts and recommendations. Members who could not attend the digital session had the opportunity to vote by post, by email or via an online portal.
The topics of the second series of sessions had been selected by the Citizens' Assembly itself. They partly overlapped with the recommendations of the first series of sessions. This is partly because the assembly reiterated/underlined some of its points, and partly because it wanted to add further recommendations on the subject. The second report therefore complements the report on the first series of meetings.
Low interest complained about
In an article for the newspaper "Informatíon", members of the Citizens' Assembly complain about too little attention from politicians and the public for their recommendations: "The Climate Assembly has the potential to make groundbreaking proposals and to facilitate a democratic renewal. But it is of no use if it is not given more resources and a stronger mandate so that politicians, media, business and trade unions can no longer ignore its recommendations," write the assembly participants.
The assembly members therefore suggest that the Citizens' Assembly's key recommendations should be put to a vote in parliament. Furthermore the parliament's climate committee should be required to report to the Citizens' Assembly and the public on the implementation of the assembly proposals. In this way, the government and parliament, but also the media and stakeholders, would be forced to take a parliamentary and public position on the assembly's key recommendations - and thus recognise the Citizens' Assembly as an important dialogue partner.