“Let the people decide” – Is Participatory Democracy the Answer to the Climate Crisis?
Funded by the Bartlett Research Grants Scheme (BRGS), this project explores the role of participatory democracy processes in tackling climate change and supporting the net-zero transition.
16 March 2022
About the project
There is growing interest in using forms of participatory democracy (PD), such as Citizens’ Assemblies and Citizen Panels, to address climate change. However, PD processes will be more likely to achieve tractable change, as well as reinvigorate our democratic culture, if they are strengthened by critical reflection on their underlying principles, and how they relate to existing political institutions, more typically characterised by forms of representative democracy.
This project brings together a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (Dr Nick Hughes) and the UCL Global Governance Institute (Julia Kreienkamp and Dr Tom Pegram) to investigate the fundamental principles of PD processes. Drawing on examples from the UK and internationally, the project will develop a practical framework for the design of PD processes aimed at tackling the climate crisis, that are effective, produce tractable results, and enhance trust in democracy. This framework will then be applied to specific questions relating to the net-zero transition that might be subject to future PD deliberation in the UK, such as the decarbonisation of heat supply in residential buildings or possible post-growth pathways towards a more sustainable economy.
The project will consider whether PD processes on questions relating to the net-zero transition should be local or national in scale; and whether their primary objectives should be to encourage debate, to advise legislators, or to decide upon legislation directly. In each case the appropriate institutional frameworks, and the relation to representative democracy processes, will also be considered.
The project is funded under the Bartlett Research Grants Scheme (BRGS) which supports novel initiatives by early career researchers. It will produce a range of research outputs, including two working papers, a policy brief, and a submission to a peer-reviewed journal, while also laying the ground for further cross-disciplinary collaborations between colleagues from the Bartlett and the UCL Global Governance Institute.