See or review the 3 sessions on the program page

Event Poster

To deal with both the democratic and climate crisis, one possible solution is to make ordinary citizens play a more central role in the legislative process. Inspired by the successful Irish precedent, in which a randomly selected assembly of ordinary citizens led to the decriminalization of abortion, the French government decided to set up a Citizens’ Convention for Climate (CCC) in the Fall 2019. 150 randomly selected citizens were asked to come up with proposals to curb French greenhouse gas emissions in socially fair ways. In June 2020 they delivered 149 proposals. These proposals were initially meant to be submitted “without filters” (as per President Macron’s promise) to direct regulation, referenda, and Parliamentary debates. They have since then served as the basis of various regulations and bills. One of them—an amendment to the French constitution—might still be the object of a nation-wide referendum.

The goal of the conference is to derive lessons from the French Citizens’ Convention for Climate regarding the feasibility and desirability of placing citizens in the position of pre- or quasi-legislators, on both climate issues and other issues. While many democratic theorists call for the legislative empowerment of ordinary citizens, it is often resisted on the grounds that only elected chambers have the competence, legitimacy, and accountability required for actual law-making. We want to bring together actors and observers from the French CCC, as well as international specialists of deliberative democracy more broadly, to discuss the takeaways of the French experiment.

What does the CCC teach us about the ability of citizen-assemblies to complement, or perhaps even substitute for, the work of elected parliaments? About the limits of citizen-assemblies? About the conditions for just and efficient deliberation? About the role of experts in law-making? About the relationship between the executive, the legislative, and the country at large?
The conference will empower the voices of those who participated in the Citizen Convention for Climate. Throughout the conference, participants in the Convention for Climate will intervene alongside witnesses, scientists, and scholars.

This event is open to the public. It is generously sponsored by the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund of Yale University, the Yale Political Science Department, Res Publica, and the European Climate Foundation.

[Simultaneous translations of the talks in both English and French will be available throughout the conference.]

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