Press releases of Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF)

EU Citizen Assemblies Call for More Sufficiency in Climate Plans

New article compares citizen assembly recommendations for action and the plans of EU member states

EU citizen assemblies are advocating for greater emphasis on sufficiency than what was earlier outlined in the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). This insight emerges from an analysis conducted by the junior research group "EnSu - The Role of Energy Sufficiency in Energy Transition and Society." In a peer-reviewed paper, the team of six researchers delves into how sufficiency is integrated into European policymaking and the perspectives citizens hold on the matter.

Sufficiency is about decisively reducing consumption and production by adapting behaviors and implementing appropriate policy frameworks. This concept emphasizes how individuals can lessen their resource use through changes in everyday practices, like housing, dining, shopping, and transportation, and which policy frameworks can promote these behaviors.

Eleven citizen assemblies in focus

The researchers examined outcome documents from eleven European citizen assemblies focused on climate protection. These documents were then juxtaposed with the strategies outlined in the corresponding National Energy and Climate Plans. Members of these assemblies are randomly selected from the general population to ensure a representative sample—considering factors such as gender, educational background, age, and place of residence. These assemblies serve as a microcosm of civil society, engaging in discussions about climate and energy policy.

Comparison of recommendations for action: citizens' forum meets EU policy

At 39 percent, the proportion of sufficiency measures in citizen assembly recommendations stands in stark contrast to the NECP's 8 percent. For the article's main author, Jonas Lage from Europa-Universität Flensburg, this is remarkable. "The proportion of sufficiency measures in the citizen assembly recommendations is three to six times greater than those in the respective national energy and climate plans across all countries. Evidently, sufficiency is seen by the citizen assemblies as a straightforward, intuitive, or perhaps indispensable strategy to address climate change and secure a livable future."

Regulatory measures focusing on sufficiency, like those limiting advertising for energy-intensive products, are particularly prevalent. Support for such measures exceeds 90 percent within these assemblies, with regulatory actions receiving the highest endorsements. For Dr. Benjamin Best, a Senior Researcher at the Wuppertal Institute, this is a key indication. "The citizen assembly recommendations offer vital insights for climate policy. Their consensus demonstrates that sufficiency measures are deemed logical solutions when implemented under the right conditions." Carina Zell-Ziegler of the Öko-Institut further notes, "Given this overwhelming endorsement, it's essential for policymakers to prioritize these strategies. In France, for instance, such recommendations eventually led to a ban on short-haul flights."

Article and junior research group

The study, "Citizens call for sufficiency and regulation — A comparison of European citizen assemblies and National Energy and Climate Plans" is featured in Energy Research & Social Science and is openly accessible in English here.

The Junior Research Group "EnSu - Exploring the Role of Energy Sufficiency in the Energy Transition and Society"  has received nearly 3.5 million euros in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, as part of the Research for Sustainable Development (FONA) initiative. Comprising six emerging researchers from the Öko-Institut in Freiburg, the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy, and Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF), the group aims to illustrate societal shifts within the energy transition for energy system modeling by April 2025.

Visit the EnSU website