For the first time in the history of a COP, the world citizens gave their opinion about the 5 main themes of COP21. The results will be shared with the decision makers during COP21.
The citizen debate about climate and energy, called World Wide Views Climate and Energy, took place on the 6th of June 2015. It was organised following the initiative of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the French National Commission for Public Debate (FR), the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DK) and Missions Publiques (FR). The idea came from the principle that no topic is complicated enough to justify not asking citizens opinion. On the contrary, they are convinced that the solution to climate change resides in each citizen’s action. Therefore, it is urgent and important to give them a voice and empower them to initiate the change. The first World Wide View gathered around 10 000 citizens from the 5 continents, spread accross 76 countries.
The citizen panels who took part to the debates were formed in such a way that they would be representative of the socio-demographic repartition of each country. Therefore criteria such as gender, age, education level, geographical zone of residence or citizen origins have been taken in account. The debates were focuses on the 5 themes now discussed by negotiators at Le Bourget: Importance of tackling climate change, Tools to tackle climate change, the UN negotiations and national commitments, Fairness and distribution of the effort, Making and keeping climate promises. All the debates happened under the same format. The citizen were spread over 5 tables of 8 people. For each theme, they watched a 15 minutes informative video and then discussed together over 1 hour this theme, helped by a facilitator. Finally, each citizen individually voted the solutions which appeared the best in them opinion under that thematic.
The results of the debates were then valued and broadly communicated at a national level and then at Bonn during the COP21 preparation meetings with the negotiators. The results have have been used during the national report elaboration , as well as the private sector and civil society views. They brought an additional dimension to this reports by reflecting the citizen opinion for each of the 76 consulted countries.
The reading of the World Wide View debate are very interesting, as they demonstrate that 80% of the citizens are very concerned by climate change, 70% want ambitious measures and 76% of the citizens want the country to take tangible measures, even if the neighbour country don’t act. All the results are accessible on-line on the website http://wwviews.org/. They also show that the north/south division that we observe at decision makers level, isn’t reflected so strongly in the citizen debates. The world citizens are ready to change and are asking for it. However, one of the organiser of the French debate underlines that the decision makers tend to focus more on the current citizen habits, and they don’t always reflect the citizen will for change. This is why, the citizen role in COP21 is real. And the citizen role in climate change is huge, as it is about leading the way by already starting to change habits and show politicians that citizen are ready for the change.