Is it possible to create a permanent citizen climate parliament in Spain? That is what the Civic Assembly Association for Climate and the Sustainability Observatory propose, two entities that claim to reactivate citizen participation in the field of climate protection as a lever for “democratic renewal” based on the knowledge that in this field science provides.

The campaign in favor of a permanent citizen climate parliament has the support of various groups, such as Marea Deliberativa and Democracia por el Clima. All of these entities believe that the “enormous participation potential” that climate protection can activate has been demonstrated.

“We present this demand in a very worrying context and also as a response to the anticlimactic denialism of extreme right parties in Europe and Spain,” says Agnès Delage, professor of Contemporary History at the University of Aix Marseille, and one of the promoters of this civic mobilization.

“The purpose of the citizen climate parliament is to create a space for decision-making informed by science and independent of the action of interest groups within the system of representative democracy, in order to reinforce it,” Delage explains to this newspaper.

“Not only are we experiencing a climate crisis that threatens the survival of humanity, we are also experiencing an unprecedented political crisis that endangers all democracies. And in the face of this decline in democracy, citizen participation is one of the ways to build an ecological state of law that will allow us to confront climate-related crises and the need to profoundly change our productive model,” this article adds. climate and participation expert.

And who are the promoters of the permanent climate citizen parliament? Firstly, and above all, the Civic Assembly for Climate Association, which brings together people who intervened between December 2021 and June 2022 in the Citizen Assembly for Climate, which was the first deliberative process (created by representative draw) on a large scale in our country.

The aim is to keep alive the flame of that civic participation experience that resulted in 172 action resolutions, although they have not yet been deliberated in Congress. Therefore, there is also a lot of criticism of the Spanish Parliament, since those resolutions have not been discussed in the Parliamentary Chamber, as promised.

Since 2022, numerous people who were an integral part of that democratic experience committed to disseminating and applying the agreements adopted, and to promoting the full institutionalization of participatory democracy in the decision-making process “to guarantee a fair and profound transformation of our society.” in the face of the climate emergency.”

That initiative was one of the five main measures that Pedro Sánchez announced as President of the Government on January 21, 2020, after declaring the state of climate emergency for our country.

Together with experts from the Sustainability Observatory, these people are now addressing society and in particular all environmental movements, unions, neighborhood associations, to ask for their public support for the demand for the creation of a participatory citizen institution.

The promoters of this initiative believe that the current context prior to the European elections, “increasingly polarized,” justifies the push for this “permanent climate parliament” because “this is a good way to promote permanent and binding citizen participation.” something that “the European Commission advocated for last December,” says Agnès  Delage.

This expert points out that since 2019, dozens of participatory processes have been carried out in Europe on climate issues and “now we have the results” of that experience. Thus, “a recent study has shown that these processes work because citizens informed by science are capable of making long-term transformation resolutions and specifically of planning sufficiency and sobriety policies to guarantee social justice.”

The latest scientific report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) placed special emphasis on the suitability of citizen assemblies, and recommended encouraging “greater public participation in climate policy and governance processes” because “it allows for social transformation.” broader approach towards systemic change, even in complex, dynamic and controversial contexts”

In Spain, between 2022 and 2024 climate citizen assemblies have been organized in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Navarra. “We have learned both from the initial limitations and from the great achievements of all these processes. Now the time has come to commit to the dynamics of institutionalization of climate citizen co-governance that is developing throughout Europe,” these entities indicate.

Delage adds that it is also about the nature of permanent participation avoiding the “whitewashing of the citizen image”, that is, the fact that citizen consultations are held without the resolutions adopted having guarantees of subsequent legislative processing. “There are neighboring countries, like France, that already assume that the increase in temperatures will be 4ºC by 2100 and that the objective of the Paris agreement is no longer achievable. With the democratic forces that we have now, our obligation is to prepare for this very difficult future,” adds Delage.

The promoters of this initiative consider that this proposal could be a model of action capable of generating high social trust, since it would be based on science and would incorporate real citizen participation. Their argument is that in our country, there is a crisis of confidence that leads 72% of the population to distrust the political class and its ability to act in the face of the climate emergency.

A reference in this sense is the commitment of numerous international NGOs, such as WWF, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace, which are currently promoting a manifesto for the European elections that calls for institutionalizing permanent climate citizen participation informed by science at all levels of government bodies-

But what is the permanent climate citizen parliament? It is a citizen assembly, made up of 100 members selected by representative draw and endowed with a one-year mandate.

The assembly would have the advice of a climate council, also permanent and made up of 25 qualified members of civil society, with representatives of environmental associations, social and union actors, economic agents and experts.

This body would correspond in part to the committee of experts in climate change and energy transition that the Climate Change Law (article 37) determined when approved in 2021, but whose development by royal decree is still pending.

The Citizen Climate Parliament therefore designates the group formed by the citizen assembly and the climate council and would also include a space for dissemination to citizens. “It would be a public space for codecision based on science and free from the influence of interest groups” designed to “plan a just ecological transition.”