Context and objectives
Climate change is prompting European governments to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly those related to energy.
The energy transition requires political measures that impact housing, energy, transport and other aspects of our everyday lives. In the current context of the soaring energy prices, socially and economically disadvantaged groups are the most affected by the distributional effects of climate policies.
The Yellow Vests protests (“Gilets jaunes” protests in French) that erupted in France in response to rising fuel prices are a striking example: many feel alienated by climate policies perceived as an elitist issue – out of touch with their realities and ignoring their interests.
What citizens perceive must be considered in the elaboration of climate policies to guarantee a large acceptation of the public and a response to the global effort and their distributional effects. So, it’s a question of fighting against the growing polarization, the institutional distrust and the climate skepticism in European societies.
The idea is to start off from the experience of citizens and to adapt concrete solutions, by considering the knowledge and studies that apply to the subject:
- How can we ensure that the costs and benefits of the energy transition are shared equally across society? How can Europe and countries prevent policies from hitting the poorest households hardest?
- How best to combine action for energy transition and social justice
- Developing equitable energy transition policies?
Terms of the mission
The process launched from 2020 to 2022 has both a national and a European dimension.
Ten workshops were held throughout France between October and November 2021. In parallel, 80 other workshops were held in the other partner countries of the project. In total, over 900 participants from all over Europe took part in the discussions. The objective of this phase was to better understand their experiences, fears and emotions of the participants regarding the energy transition and its potential impact on their living conditions.
The Phase 1 report at European level is accessible here: https://fair-energy-transition.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/King-Baudouin-Foundation_Fair-Energy-Transition-for-All_What-Vulnerable-People-Have-to-SayNew.pdf
The results of the workshops of this first phase are discussed by stakeholders and public decision-makers at national level. Coordinated in France by the French Institut Montaigne, this group of experts has been working on policy recommendations for a fair energy transition.
The national reflections and work are complemented at the European level by a task force of stakeholders and policy makers who have been tasked with capitalizing on the work of all the European participants to work on proposals at the same level.
The last phase consists of final feedback to the participants of phase 1. In each country, citizens’ forums are organised, composed of participants from the local workshops. Their job will be to discuss and react to the recommendations made by the expert group.
In France, the Citizen’s Energy Forum took place on 10 June 2022 at the Climate Academy.
The results of this work are published in October 2022 at national and European level. These reports provide an overview vulnerable people’s positions on the energy transition and suggestions for the development of fair energy transition policies.
Following the process, the results are presented to key decision-makers to raise awareness on the concerns but also to put concrete proposals on the table. In addition to the energy aspect, the aim is also to promote their integration into the policy-making process.
Added value of the approach
Involve and give voice to people in energy vulnerability by inviting them to share their experiences but also to take a position on solutions put forward by experts.
Better understand the views, fears and emotions of those who will be most economically impacted by the energy transition. Include them to limit the impact on their living conditions.
To provide an informed contribution, reflecting a diversity of experiences of the most vulnerable citizens, to national and European policy makers, researchers and stakeholders in the development of equitable energy transition policies.
The King Baudouin Foundation is coordinating a consortium of European foundations to pave the way for a fair energy transition in Europe (Cariplo Foundation, Ikea Foundation, Deutsch Bunddestiffung Umwelt, Stiftung Mercator, Open society European society institute).
The European part of this project is led by the following partners: Climate Outreach, IFOK, European Policy Centre.