Overline: Science Platform for Climate Action
Headline: Recommendations to Enhance Public Participation

The need for public participation has been called into question in the current debate on turbo-charging Germany’s transition to renewable energy. But excluding citizens from decision-making processes is likely to jeopardise the public’s support for measures to protect the climate. This is a key insight of a new paper prepared by the steering committee of the Science Platform for Climate Action titled “Gerade jetzt! Warum Teilhabe und Beteiligung für die Energiewende unverzichtbar werden” (Especially now! Why participation and benefit sharing are indispensable for the energy transition).

Wooden figures and speech bubbles
Public participation is indispensable for the energy transition. Shutterstock/Bored Photography

The authors, among them Ortwin Renn of RIFS, make seven recommendations:

  1. The German government should use a broad range of context-specific approaches to engage with the public: information campaigns alone will not suffice and should be complemented by efforts to bolster communication, participation and benefit sharing.
  2. Opportunities for public participation must reflect and engage with people's concerns and life-worlds. Models and formats of information, communication, participation and benefit sharing must be geared to the experiences, realities and resources of the target groups.
  3. Cities should treat climate action as one of their core responsibilities and adequate (human) resources should be allocated to this.
  4. Greater communication and cooperation among municipalities is needed and climate protection activities should be coordinated with actors from politics, business, civil society and citizens. A special focus should be placed on sharing best-practice and worst-experience examples of public participation and benefit-sharing.
  5. Public participation and stakeholder participation activities should be combined.
  6. The synthesis and dissemination of empirical research findings on participation in community energy infrastructure planning need to be improved.
  7. With a view to the newly created high-level unit “Public Participation in the Transformation" in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK), the German government should urgently clarify how it intends to implement and strengthen public participation and benefit sharing in the transformation for a climate-neutral future.

The Science Platform for Climate Action advises the German government on the implementation and further development of Germany’s long-term strategy for climate protection. RIFS is one of the platform’s seven member organisations.

Publication (available in German only):