Deliberative democracy and environmental justice: evaluating the role of citizens’ juries in urban climate governance

Amy Ross, James Van Alstine, Matthew Cotton, Lucie Middlemiss

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Understanding mechanisms of policy engagement and the participation of different actors in urban climate governance is particularly important as cities follow climate emergency declarations with corresponding action, to ensure that inequalities are not exacerbated by climate action. Citizens’ juries are a deliberative democracy tool that allows a demographically representative sample of the population to learn about a contested issue from experts, and discuss, debate and develop policy recommendations. Leeds City Council declared a climate emergency in March 2019, compelling the local authority to take serious measures to implement a reduction in carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. A citizens’ jury was established by an independent local body, the Leeds Climate Commission, to debate various possible courses of action in response to the declaration. This research critically examined the processes surrounding and embedded in the Leeds citizens’ climate jury with a focus on procedural justice and representation justice. Emerging lessons include that recognition of power differentials between various social groups should be carefully considered throughout deliberative processes to ensure representation justice is achieved in decision making. Representation justice demands that those who are included in decision making spaces are able to harness their position to voice their experiences, opinions, hopes and concerns in deciding which trade-offs will be made. In citizens’ juries, facilitation style and techniques play a critical role in achieving this participatory parity, alongside other factors. There is potential for important procedural co-benefits to emerge, such as trust-building, place identity and hope for the future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021


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