“The Climate Council is cool because mini-Berlin discusses it with itself”

For two months, 100 Berliners discussed climate protection measures. On Thursday evening the results were reported to the House of Representatives Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch. The Berliner Zeitung spoke to Rabea Koss in advance. She is a spokeswoman for the Climate Civic Council.

Berlin newspaper: Ms Koss, how does the Citizens’ Council envision our future?

Rabea Koss: That was the big question, but the tangible results will not be presented until tonight in the House of Representatives. The members dealt with how we in Berlin want or must deal with the climate crisis and what recommendations they want to formulate for the climate policy. There are already a lot of resources in Berlin. The question was: Which of them appeal to citizens and which should be tightened up? But which ones are not approved? We’ve definitely dealt with it a lot.

You mentioned that specific recommendations will not be submitted this evening until Bettina Jarasch, Senator for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection. How was the process up to this point?

Nine sessions were held in total. Members first discussed climate change in general and the measures and regulations in force in Berlin. Experts advised them. Then we worked out individual topics and discussed them in small groups. After various introductory lectures, it was discussed what citizens get out of it, what they like, what other thoughts they have on the topic. The document was always co-written by the moderator and revised by the editorial team during the process. Finally, appropriate recommendations from small groups appeared, which were then voted by a majority of votes.

Can you now reveal where the Climate Council sees a particularly urgent need for action?

There were topics related to energy, buildings and transport. There has been a lot of discussion for all of them, especially in the area of ​​mobility, there has been a lot of discussion and also where this really affects citizens personally in their own environment.

Can it be said, then, that traffic change has been the subject of the hottest debate? Two meetings are scheduled in advance.

Exactly, we’ve really planned extra time for this. There is quite a lot of work to be done and it was clear to us in advance that there would be a much needed discussion. This was the case.

The Climate Council consists of 100 randomly selected Berliners. Did you feel that this is a representative cross-section of our city? In Denmark, the problem of overrepresentation of better educated people has emerged.

It is actually always a problem with citizens’ councils that people with higher education accept more often and that more and more effort is required to reach people with lower qualifications. Here in Berlin, we have also done what we call door-to-door acquisition to counter this. It did something. However, it is still the case that people with higher education are somewhat over-represented. Nevertheless, representativeness is much better than, for example, in the House of Representatives.

With such a cross-section of society, how difficult is it to come to a common denominator?

Honestly, it’s always a lot of fun because it’s kind of a mini-Berlin where you discuss things together. You represented all the opinions that you know in your circle of friends or family. I was also a member of the nationwide Climate Council, but in Berlin I had the impression that there was more discussion here than at the national level. It’s great that everyone treated each other with great respect and that we were able to develop an understanding of the positions of others.

In such a citizens’ council, it is very important that people who are not normally talking to each other come to the table and think about which solutions might work best. It’s not good if everyone is just lining up against each other – ultimately the recommendations need to be backed up by the majority. It worked very well. After all, there was a lot of approval.

Were there any other people who still needed to be convinced to climate change?

As far as I know, everyone agreed that something must be done and there was no one to say that climate change does not exist. The only thing unclear was what the specific measures should look like. How much they are to influence us, how socially fair they must be, how much they burden the owners and tenants. These were exciting points that needed to be discussed.

After two months of discussions, do you have the feeling that civil society is ready for profound change?

I have seen this before with a nationwide Citizens’ Council: When citizens meet and are well informed about what the climate crisis actually is, what its effects are, quite progressive demands can emerge from it. In general, I had the impression that there was such a moment also here. It will come when people realize what Berlin will be like if there are no changes now. Many were not always aware of how quickly something had to be done. So an important step in the beginning was to create some clarity. Climate Citizens: Inner Council has definitely achieved this. And at the same time, these people pass on knowledge.

Are you sure that the recommendations of the Climate Council will also be implemented politically?

The senator convened a climate council that followed the process, and the newly appointed Senate climate committee will meet in September to deal with these recommendations in detail. Then, as announced, justify why the recommendations were adopted or not. Of course, it is clear that not everything can be taken over. And it’s true that politicians ultimately make decisions. But thanks to the Climate Council, he now knows what informed citizens are recommending and what would ultimately gain wider support in society.

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