To inform the process of transition in Denmark and specifically the annual Climate Action Plan process. The Assembly was organised in two phases to contribute to two planning cycles and to experiment with different approaches.
Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities.
To contribute and provide recommendations to the political process of climate transition, with particular focus on topics relevant to the citizens (as chosen by participants).
Commitment to respond
Commitment from relevant Minister and parliamentary committee to respond.
Planning group consisting of facilitators from Danish Board of Technology (DBT), a lead civil servant and 5 members randomly selected from the Assembly. Ministry appointed a professional panel of experts to ensure quality and professional balance in the content and evidence provided
The Danish Board of Technology (DBT) – design and facilitation. National Agency on Statistics – recruitment.
For first phase, 99 citizens were selected according to socio-demographic criteria (age, gender, education, geography), with 99 substitutes. Several members dropped out when process moved from face-to-face to online; 83 started the first phase and 59 completed. For second phase, again 99 citizens were selected, with one third from the first phase; 83 started the second phase; 68 completed. Members paid per diem for attendance of meetings. Members lacking computer equipment were lent equipment and ad hoc ICT training provided.
Phase 1 ran from 24 October 2020 to 21 March 2021, comprising full weekends at start and end (whole assembly) with three evening meetings in between (in groups), plus adhoc editing meetings when requested. Phase 2 ran from 23 October to 15 December 2021, comprising face-to-face weekend meetings at the start and end of the process, with five online evening meetings in between, and a final evening for voting.
For first phase, during the first weekend, members learnt about climate change and Danish policy, voted on pre-set questions on topical issues (e.g. green taxation, building in landscapes, bio-resources and agriculture) and proposed and voted on subjects to continue working on. Members randomly allocated into 5 themed groups for evening sessions to generate recommendations on: financing and taxes; agriculture and bioresources; transportation; behaviour, public participation and public education; technology and landscape. Members provided feedback on each other’s draft recommendations. DBT and two external experts provided feedback on the draft recommendations before the final meeting. Final editing and voting on the recommendations took place in the final weekend. The second phase was even more bottom-up, with members selecting topics without expert input. Evening meetings arranged around these issues, including aspects of behaviour change, education, consumption, energy price crisis and energy transition, with presentations from experts and brainstorming ideas. Final weekend focused on writing and editing text. Further evening for voting.
Members largely managed their own group dynamics. If required, lead facilitators intervened to break deadlocks (rare).
Expert presentations at the start of the first weekend in phase one and for each thematic group for both phases. Further input was provided when requested by members or suggested by the planning group. 48 experts in total in phase one.
Recommendations were drafted through consensus by members in themed sub-groups. Opportunities for feedback and editing by members of other groups were provided. Two external experts, with experience in energy modelling and public administration, and DBT provided feedback before the members prepared their final recommendations.
Members voted on each of the thematic chapters and on each recommendation.
A report containing 19 thematic chapters with 117 recommendations from the first phase of the assembly was delivered to the Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities and the Danish Parliament’s Committee on Climate, Energy and Utilities on 29 April 2021. Each section contains observations, assessment and then recommendations of the assembly members, describing the motivation behind the recommendations. The report for the second phase will be delivered on 23 January 2022.
The Assembly website provides details of organisation, presentations, written briefings and results, as well as videos of witness presentations. All sessions were open for researchers to observe. Limited media interest.
Oversight of official response
The phased structure of the Assembly means that members can comment on earlier official responses. The potential for the Assembly to continue into 2022 is under discussion.
Official response to first report from the Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities on 25 June 2021. Following parliamentary question, government committed to treating the Assembly as an additional “climate partnership” (a formal relationship with major sectors) which requires a full report on the status of the recommendations. Ministers considering whether to make the Assembly a permanent element of the Danish climate planning process. Some evidence that scepticism and distrust towards Assembly amongst politicians has lessened.
University researchers, working independently, followed the process. Participants’ evaluation of the first phase published.
Originally 150K Danish Kroner (€20.2K) for DBT to create programme and facilitation with other functions taken on by Ministry. DBT budget increased to 550K Kroner (€74K) to manage the whole process. DBT willing to cross-subsidise the Assembly to ensure quality and proof of concept.
You can read more about the Climate Assembly on DBT’s website or watch the learning call on KNOCA’s YouTube channel.