On 28 April 2022, the Berlin Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change kicked off with a meeting at the Berlin Umweltforum. Around 100 participants from Berlin came together for the first time to get to know each other and to get a first look at the topic of climate mitigation in Berlin.
This was the beginning of a ten-session event in which participants will discuss mitigation measures for Berlin in the areas of mobility, housing and energy. The process will conclude with the participants drawing up a citizens' report in which they voted on the climate mitigation measures they discussed. The report will be handed over to the Berlin Senate, which is not legally bound by the proposals but has still promised to give detailed justifications if certain measures are not implemented.
Noticeable enthusiasm among the participants
The participants showed a lot of enthusiasm at being part of the citizens' assembly, and they were particularly motivated to finally get to work on the climate issue. This eagerness is good, because the participants will invest around 30 hours of their time scrutinising climate mitigation measures on behalf of Berlin’s inhabitants. During the Q&A session, participants gave a variety of reasons why they chose to participate in the citizens' assembly: Many said they were concerned about the future of their grandchildren, and that they wanted to leave a (similarly) beautiful world behind for future generations. Another important driver was observations and experiences from the city, such as the lack of rain in the spring and the need to water trees along streets. The desire to improve mobility and, above all, the attractiveness of public transport was also an important factor.
These initial talks not only showed how much these issues move Berliners: They also showed that many of them are ready to help shape the process. On the other hand, they made clear that Berliners also want to be heard by policymakers.
Senator for Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection Bettina Jarasch welcomed the participants and promised to take their report seriously, as well as to discuss the decisions made with Berlin’s state parliament.
Interestingly, unlike at many climate science conferences, a very diverse group of individuals took part in the event at the Umweltforum. Very fitting for Berlin, the assembly has brought together people with different migration and educational backgrounds and from all age groups. It is precisely this diversity of perspectives – and the different opinions they are expected to yield – that make this citizens' assembly so valuable. This was something that everyone at the event agreed on.
The first dialogue session on climate mitigation measures in the transport sector will begin on Tuesday, 3 May. The discussion about parking and alternatives to the car promises to be a particularly tense one.
For more on the kick-off event, visit https://www.berlin.de/klimabuergerinnenrat/