Dr. David Guston and Dr. Richard Sclove are two of my co-conspirators in mapping out the formation of a National Participatory Tech Assessment agency. They also recently participated in the first ever global citizens’ deliberation, dubbed World Wide Views on Global Climate Change. Dr. Sclove is the U.S. advisor to the World Wide Views project. Here are the highlights from this effort, pulled from a recently released press announcement.
Note this critical quote included in the release: “Citizen participation and input is important to any public policy change,” said U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) at the Phoenix metropolitan area [Global Climate Change] event at Arizona State University, where he presented welcoming remarks. “If you truly expect it to work, you’ve got to have citizen participation.”
Americans join citizens in 37 countries in recommending stringent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions be instituted at UN Climate Change Conference
Eighty-seven percent of U.S. participants in a historic global citizens’ consultation say it is urgent for industrialized countries to reduce CO2 emissions far beyond Obama targets.
Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, and Phoenix (October 6, 2009) – Organizers of World Wide Views on Global Warming today announced results of the first global citizens’ consultation in history. Last week a broadly diverse group of residents in five greater metropolitan areas in the United States joined citizens in 37 other countries on six continents for a full day of deliberation on climate change policy. World Wide Views is the first opportunity everyday citizens from around the world have had to present their recommendations to climate change policymakers and to affect the outcomes at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen. Participants deliberated and voted on 12 questions within four thematic areas: climate change and its consequences; long-term goals and urgency; handling CO2 emissions; and the economy of technology transfer and adaptation (results can be viewed online at www.WWViews.org). They then proposed and prioritized action recommendations for COP15 delegates. The 4,000 people who took part internationally in World Wide Views sent a clear message: It is time to act.
In sharp contrast with recent public opinion polls in the United States indicating somewhat diminished popular concern with climate change, 74 percent of the 338 participants in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and Phoenix are “very concerned” about global warming. Eighty-seven percent want the United States and other developed nations to reduce their year 2020 greenhouse gas emissions 25-40 percent or more below the 1990 levels toward which the Obama Administration is aiming. A striking 9 in 10 Americans who took part in World Wide Views – matched by 9 in 10 citizens from 37 other represented nations – say it is urgent that nations reach a new climate deal later this year at COP15 in Copenhagen.
Additionally, 71 percent of the U.S. participants in World Wide Views want nations that fail to meet their obligations under a new climate deal to be penalized severely or significantly. Sixty-nine percent believe the price of fossil fuels should be increased. Detailed results from around the world can be found online at www.WWViews.org.
“World Wide Views has given us politicians a unique insight into the views of ordinary citizens from all corners of the world on the climate crisis,” said Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s minister of climate and energy and the host of the upcoming COP15 in Copenhagen. “It is a powerful signal to the politicians when citizens all over the world agree that action is urgent. It underlines the importance of reaching an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen this December.”
About World Wide Views
The main objective of World Wide Views is to give a broad sample of citizens from across the Earth the opportunity to influence global climate policy. An overarching purpose is to set an historic precedent, demonstrating that political decision-making at the global level benefits when everyday people participate.
“Citizen participation and input is important to any public policy change,” said U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) at the Phoenix metropolitan area event at Arizona State University, where he presented welcoming remarks. “If you truly expect it to work, you’ve got to have citizen participation.”
World Wide Views on Global Warming has generated uniquely useful information because, unlike opinion poll respondents, participants received balanced expert briefing materials in advance, based on the Fourth Assessment Report of the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and spent an entire day learning together, in neutrally facilitated deliberations, prior to voting on policy recommendations. Around the world, participants were everyday people selected to represent general demographic tendencies in their nation or region in terms of age, gender, education, occupation, urban versus countryside, and ethnicity or race. Climate experts and staff from organized stakeholder groups involved with global warming were excluded.
Project managers at the U.S. sites report that citizens participated seriously and appreciated the opportunity to learn from one another and express their views to policymakers. One Los Angeles participant told a discussion facilitator that, “This process has restored my faith in America.”
“By enabling citizens to discuss the scientific findings and socioeconomic issues at the heart of the UN climate negotiations, World Wide Views – unlike a conventional opinion poll – functions as a leading indicator of the direction public opinion is likely to move as we experience more consequences of global warming,”
said Richard Sclove, Ph.D., the U.S. advisor to the World Wide Views project. “As the first simultaneous global citizens’ deliberation in history, World Wide Views shows that humanity can find its collective voice. Our leaders and negotiators will ignore that voice only at their peril as well as our own.”
World Wide Views was initiated and coordinated by the Danish Board of Technology, the Danish Parliament’s office of technology assessment (www.tekno.dk). Citizen deliberations, each including roughly 100 participants, took place on Sept. 26 at 46 sites in 38 nations. The deliberations in each country were organized by World Wide Views National Partners that include government agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations. World Wide Views cost about $3.5 million and took 20 months to organize. Future implementations of the World Wide Views methodology can include additional countries, be organized more quickly, and address other global issues.
For detailed project results go to www.WWViews.org. Download a table showing key U.S. results in a global context here. A report with further analysis of results from the 38 nations will be delivered to government policymakers on November 19, 2009. To receive the report, please go to www.WWViews.org/policybrief and click “Subscribe.” Journalists can e-mail JM@tekno.dk for pre-release information.
Project organizers and participants from the five U.S. sites and from all 38 represented nations, as well as staff from the World Wide Views global secretariat in Denmark and expert commentators are available for media interviews.