There will be a referendum in France on the results of the climate assembly that ran there from October 2019 to June 2020. This was announced by President Emmanuel Macron on 10 January 2020. In addition, randomly selected citizens' assemblies are to become the third chamber of the republic.
Macron had faced questions from the national climate assembly on 10 January 2020, which has been meeting since October 2019. The 150 randomly selected citizens had invited the head of state to the fourth of their seven meetings.
At the meeting, the President renewed the promise he had already made at the beginning of the "Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat": "Not nothing will be made of what you put on the table, on the contrary. I promise that strong decisions will be taken on this basis." Macron announced that he would let all French people decide on the recommendations of the citizens' assembly in a referendum. "If the Citizens' Assembly transmits a draft law for submission to a referendum, it will be proposed for binding application. If it is a proposal, the referendum will be consultative."
"You can help me"
Macron regretted not convening the climate assembly earlier. "I listened to your debates and they would have helped me anticipate some problems with the carbon tax," he joked. The president also admitted to having made a mistake on the carbon tax. "I underestimated its social impact not only on the poorest, but also on people who live far from their jobs and schools and suffer from all kinds of constraints. You can help me with that."
Lastly, Macron advocated for more citizen participation. "Representative democracy and majority voting are not everything in democracy. Our democracy must rediscover trust in political decision-making. Deliberative democracy, as you practice it, can contribute to this." A citizens' assembly, he believes, would have saved him from the yellow waistcoats. "MPs need feedback loops between elections to represent society and not just their own constituents," Macron said.
Continue citizens' assembly
In his closing remarks, he offered to continue the climate assembly as a whole or with some randomly or otherwise selected members to review the application of the measures proposed by the citizens' assembly and to accompany it to international initiatives.
Patrick Bernasconi, President of the Council for Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs (CESE), had announced on 11 January 2020 that this third chamber of the Republic would be reformed and become the site of future citizens' assemblies. These would thus become a permanent democratic institution in France. The CESE is currently the representation of organised civil society from trade unions, non-governmental organisations, etc. Its future was recently in question. Its future has recently been in question.
The Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change was the first of its kind in France. In June 2020, the Citizens' Assembly had to present its recommendations on the country's future climate protection policy.