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The Contribution of Deliberative Democracy to Energy Transition Governance

Democracy
Environmental Policy
European Union
Climate Change
Energy Policy
Diarmuid Torney
Dublin City University
Diarmuid Torney
Dublin City University

Abstract

This paper will analyse the potential for using citizens’ assemblies and other deliberative forums to govern the EU’s energy transition in turbulent times. Participatory deliberative methods, including citizens’ assemblies, are gaining increasing attention worldwide. A small but growing number of countries have sought to, or are planning to, incorporate such institutional innovations into climate change policymaking, including Ireland, France, and the UK. The paper will develop a framework to analyse the characteristics and role of citizens’ assemblies in governing the energy transition. This framework will build on existing approaches within the field of deliberative democracy, but will modify and extend this in order to generate a bespoke approach that captures the specific characteristics of climate change as a policy problem such as complexity, uncertainty, long time horizons, and questions of (in)justice across time and space. This framework will capture the essential characteristics of deliberative forums in climate governance, encompassing: institutional design; framing and nature of the question(s) posed; nature and type of inputs including expert testimony and communication styles; characteristics of the deliberative process; nature of outputs; and whether and how such outputs are incorporated into broader climate policy processes. The analytical framework will be used to undertake a mapping of completed, ongoing, and planned citizens’ assemblies and other deliberative forums within the EU at various levels of governance from local to national. This will allow for systematic analysis of existing citizens’ assemblies and other deliberative forums that have either been completed or are underway, how their design characteristics shape(d) their operation, which actors shaped their processes, and how successful they have been in shaping broader climate policy processes and outputs.