On September 26th 2009, 100 members of the public sat down for eight hours in a windowless room in Kettering to discuss climate change. None of the people present had a professional connection to the debate and few had a deep understanding of the debate prior to the event. These 100 British citizens were joined by 4,300 other people, sitting in groups of 100 in 38 countries including China, India, Ethiopia, the USA, Japan, Sweden and Malawi.

This report describes what happened. It analyses the UK government’s stated position in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference happening in Copenhagen in December and explores the implications for this position of the informed views of UK and citizens around the world.

To download the report in full  please click here

In summary, the report’s findings include:

  1. it is possible to engage the public in complex debates about climate change; Kettering demonstrates that it can be enjoyable and most importantly, people want their voices heard;
  2. once provided with information and space to deliberate, a larger majority wants the government to move further than its current commitments than polling of uninformed members of the public would suggest ;
  3. any deal in Copenhagen must be equitable for least developed countries;
  4. despite wanting urgent, large scale action by government on climate change, there is considerable scepticism about how the government will do this and an unwillingness to pay additional costs; and 5.governments pushing for weaker targets in Copenhagen are working against the wishes of their citizens. Informed publics across the world believe that the problem of climate change is urgent and want they large scale action to deal with it

The report recommends that the UK government:

  1. makes more ambitious cuts to carbon emissions in its response to climate change;
  2. develops and maintains a long term campaign to provide more, accessible information to the public including leaflets to all households, public information adverts on the television and more imaginative use of the internet; and
  3. engages the British public at local and national level in a dialogue about how society reaches the ambitious carbon reduction targets the public wants.