Stuttgart climate assembly with 24 recommendations

22. June 2023
Stadt Stuttgart

What role does the city of Stuttgart play in climate protection and what measures should Stuttgart take to help achieve the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement? This question was addressed by 61 randomly selected citizens from March to June 2023. On 17 June 2023, they agreed on 24 recommendations.

Proposals on transport and heat

In the area of transport, the recommendations deal, among other things, with the promotion of public transport, walking and cycling. Costs and the availability of parking space are also a focus. Very high approval ratings were given, for example, to the examination and support of freight and goods transport, including the switch to battery-powered electric vehicles. Almost unanimously, the Citizens' Assembly on Climate resolved the recommendation that the city of Stuttgart examine and implement the establishment of so-called "microhubs" at intersections for switching between different forms of mobility. There was insufficient agreement to consider the introduction of a city toll.

In the area of heat, the members of the Citizens' Asssembly were largely in agreement. The recommendation that the city publish information on planned heat networks and heat centres at an early stage after heat planning has been completed received particularly high approval ratings. In order to create low-threshold access to refurbishment measures, the Climate Assembly also recommends the establishment of coordination offices for building refurbishments, which analyse, advise and procure standardised material per neighbourhood.

"Climate protection is only possible together with the urban society"

Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Nopper said: "We have to join forces in climate protection, but climate protection must also work in real life. Climate protection does not go against urban society, climate protection only goes together with urban society. That's why we consulted randomly selected citizens. We wanted to find out which measures they consider sensible, necessary and feasible." The Mayor accepted the recommendations at the end of the last session on behalf of the Stuttgart City Council.

All recommendations are now being examined by the administration in terms of their technical content and resource requirements. The recommendations are to be discussed in the municipal council in time for the parliamentary groups' debate on the budget in autumn. In this way, the necessary financial and human resources can be made available for the implementation of the measures that will then be decided on for the year 2024.

6,000 Stuttgart residents invited

6,000 Stuttgart residents aged 16 and over, randomly selected from the population register, were invited to take part in the citizens' assembly. Just under 900 interested people had responded. From these applications, an assembly was put together that was a reflection of the population according to age, gender, migration background, education, employment, economic and financial situation, permanent physical or health restrictions and the presence of underage children.

Young people were more strongly represented in the citizens' assembly than in the population as a whole. A total of ten people aged 16 or 17 wete participants in the assembly. The young people were supposed to represent all Stuttgart residents under 18 - including children who were not yet able to participate in discussions.

Six meetings

The 61 assembly participants met for six days between March and June 2023. During this time, they learned everything important about the climate and discussed various recommendations to politicians. Experts and other stakeholders shared their knowledge with the participants.

The experts included marine researcher and climate communicator Dr. Udo Engelhardt and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Baumüller, Honorary Professor of Climatology at the University of Stuttgart. In addition, environmental associations such as BUND contributed their knowledge, as did the Stadtwerke Stuttgart and the Guild of Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning Technology Stuttgart.

Recommendations for municipal council

After its last meeting, the citizens' assembly presented its recommendations to the Stuttgart City Council. The city council will discuss each recommendation of the assembly and give reasons for which recommendations it will implement and which it will not. The city of Stuttgart has an office which, after the citizens' assembly, ensures that the results are dealt with further in administration and politics.

In July 2022, the city council decided that Stuttgart should reach net-zero by 2035. Therefore, the citizens' assembly was to focus on two particularly difficult sub-questions:

1. what steps should Stuttgart take to achieve a net-zero heat supply?

2. what steps should Stuttgart take to achieve net-zero mobility? What impact does mobility have on road space?

Justification of the issues

Many people were affected by high heating costs in the winter of 2022/23 and wondered how they can change this situation. At the same time, heating buildings produces a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, which Stuttgart must quickly reduce in the coming years, it says in justification of addressing the issue of heat supply.

If a net-zero heat supply is to be established, questions arise about areas and technology, about the effects of the conversion and those affected by it, and about how the costs, but also the benefits, of the conversion can be fairly distributed.

Acceptable solutions

On the subject of mobility, it is said that space is needed on the roads for climate-friendly means of transport and for climate adaptation. Among other things, this raises the question: For which use of road space should there be how much space in view of the climate issue? And if there is not enough space, how do we deal with roadside parking, for example?

The citizens are on the move in the street space every day and therefore have a high interest in the topic, which is also expressed in strong opinions and emotional reactions. Therefore, it would be an opportunity to deal with the issue in more detail in the climate assembls in order to obtain solutions that the majority of people would accept and welcome.

Procedure laid down in policy paper

In the eleven-page "Principles for the Climate Assembly Stuttgart" the procedure of the assembly is laid down in detail. Thus it can be read there that the dates of the citizens' assembly must be suitable for most people. "People with disabilities are given special support. If needed, there are also offers for care or childcare for relatives of participants who need to be looked after during this time. Experts are encouraged and, if possible, selected to present in language that is easy to understand. There will also be an expense allowance paid to all members of the assembly," it continues.

The citizens' assembly was led by an independent coordination, which was responsible for preparing the procedure, developing the agenda, inviting experts and moderators and more. The mini public was moderated by the Stuttgart-based communications office Ulmer, and carried out by the associated company Ifok. The Fraunhofer Institute evaluates the citizens' assembly and writes a final report. The climate assembly costs totalling 293,000 euros are borne by the city of Stuttgart.

Implementation of citizens' assembly thanks to citizens' initiative

The implementation of the citizens' assembly is thanks to a citizens' initiative. In 2021, the "Initiative Bürger*innenrat Klima für Stuttgart" (Climate Assembly Initiative Stuttgart) had collected more than 2,500 signatures for a residents' motion on this issue. In December 2021, the city council followed the motion with a resolution to hold such a mini public.

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