Overline: Recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly on Climate
Headline: “The 1.5°C target is a top priority”

Germany’s first national Citizens' Assembly on Climate has agreed on over 80 recommendations for climate policy, addressing mobility, construction, heating, food systems, and energy. The recommendations were developed by 160 randomly selected citizens in over 50 hours of meetings. The assembly was accompanied and supported by a panel of experts, led by Professor Ortwin Renn of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam.

Citizens' Council Climate with Ortwin Renn Federal Press Conference
Press conference in spring 2021 to launch the german Citizens' Council: IASS Director Ortwin Renn, who chaired the expert board of this participatory citizens' panel. Behind him sits former Bundespräsident Horst Köhler, patron of the Citizens' Council on Climate. Bürgerrat Klima/ Robert Boden

“The 1.5°C target is a top priority. Climate protection is a human right and should be included in Germany’s constitution, or Basic Law. Every new law should be reviewed to assess its implications for climate protection" – urges the Climate Asembly in the preamble to its recommendations. The letter of recommendations continues, highlighting in particular that: "Climate protection serves the common good and has priority over individual interests”. The Assembly goes on to warn: "Large companies in particular must be obligated to act in ways that are conducive to climate protection and the common good." These and more than 80 further recommendations represent the consensus achieved by the members of the Citizens’ Climate Assembly and will be presented to policymakers as guidance for climate policy and action over the coming legislative period. 64 percent of the recommendations developed by the Citizens’ Assembly were adopted with over 90 percent approval.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Climate was supported in its work by a panel of scientists. This ensured that participants could "make their own assessments, supported by the best scientific expertise", says IASS Scientific Director Ortwin Renn, who accompanied this pilot project together with fellow Scientific Director Prof. Mark Lawrence and Affiliate Scholar Roman Huber as well as other experts from the scientific community. Mark Lawrence was called to support the Citizens’ Assembly due to his expertise as an atmospheric scientist. The assembly drew on a broad range of expertise from across society, science, and the business sector.

"I am highly impressed by the enthusiasm and ambition shown by the participants," says IASS Scientific Director Prof. Lawrence of the Citizens' Assembly. “Naturally, the recommendations prepared by the Citizens' Assembly do not comprise a coherent climate protection plan for the federal government and the individual measures and their feasibility will certainly have to be discussed further. But the important thing is that the assembly has shown quite clearly that citizens are prepared to go very far – much further than previously thought – in supporting change at the personal, societal and structural level. This could give the Citizens' Assembly real political clout."

A duty to inform

According to the Citizens’ Assembly, the state has a duty to inform and educate citizens on issues around climate protection: “Citizens must be able to make their own informed choices. This requires education and transparency about the impacts of climate change and their consequences. It follows from this that citizens must have access to all relevant information. The state has a duty to inform.” At the same time, “citizens must take responsibility and be prepared to change" in response to climate change, states the Citizens' Assembly.

Among the recommendations developed by the Citizens' Assembly on Climate are the following:

  • more land should be made available for renewable energies and afforestation;
  • building owners should be obliged to install photovoltaic systems on roofs from 2022;
  • the further expansion of wind power should be supported;
  • self-consumption of electricity from privately owned photovoltaic systems should be promoted and existing regulations simplified;
  • the EEG levy that citizens pay on the price of electricity should be adjusted;
  • the coal phase-out should be fast-tracked and brought forward to 2030, instead of the current target of 2038;
  • energy generation from fossil fuels should be phased out by 2035;
  • “green electricity" must become more affordable than electricity generated from oil, natural gas or coal;
  • public transport systems should be expanded and made more attractive;
  • rail transport should be expanded – for example, by extending existing rail networks;
  • subsidies that benefit motorized traffic should be scrapped; cycling and e-bikes should be promoted;
  • air travel should be avoided and the aviation sector should adopt synthetic fuels;
  • climate-friendly agriculture and food systems should be developed by 2030;
  • the registration of new (internal combustion engine) cars should be prohibited by 2030.

A citizens' report containing the the recommendations of the Citizens' Climate Assembly will be prepared with the support of the scientific board of trustees and submitted to all political parties represented in Germany’s national parliament.