How can collective deliberation by citizens lead to wise and timely action on climate change, including by municipal and provincial governments? Alberta will be a testing ground for this question over the next five years. An international team of scholars, NGOs, businesses, and governments will be addressing it, supported by $1 million in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and over $3 million in contributions from other sources. Dr. David Kahane, professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, is the Principal Investigator.
The research team includes leading researchers and practitioners of deliberative democracy, environmental organizations, energy companies, municipal governments, and Provincial ministries. The project, called Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD), will help to convene groups of citizens within Albertan municipalities to shape policies on greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change, and also build province-wide deliberation and dialogue on climate issues.
Learning alongside citizens, the team will investigate how the design of citizen deliberations — how participants are selected, who participates, how the agenda is set, how often the citizens meet and for how long, whether policy makers are involved, and so on — shapes their social and political influence. The team will also explore the sorts of influence that citizen deliberations can have on climate issues, including informing and directing policy makers and processes, as well as shaping citizens’ knowledge, their sense of environmental citizenship, and their political capacities and networks. Through this work, we will seek to show how citizens can lead effective responses to climate change, and how political leaders and institutions can skillfully engage with citizens to develop policy.