Examples such as the ‘Yellow vests’ in France and anti-wind protests in Groningen (among other places) suggest that citizens resist energy and climate policies if they feel excluded from decision-making. Public participation in decision-making – namely engaging the public more in the development, planning, and implementation of energy and climate policies – has been flagged as a critical factor for successful implementation of such policies. However, little is known about when and how to engage the public in decision-making in order to effectively secure public support for sustainable energy projects.
We have conducted a questionnaire study with >1000 residents in the province of Groningen about how citizens want to participate in decision-making about sustainable energy transition. Specifically, we examined public preferences for participation in each type and level of the chain of relevant decisions: from macro-policies on sustainable energy transition more broadly to micro-decisions, for example on concrete energy projects.
The findings are thought-provoking and will spur discussion about what are the optimal ways to engage the public in different decisions and when this can lead, or not, to more socially acceptable energy projects.
Over de sprekers
Goda Perlaviciute is associate professor in Environmental psychology at the University of Groningen. In her research and teaching she focuses on key factors and processes that influence public acceptability of climate and energy policy, and particularly on the role of public participation in decision-making. She studies key factors and processes that influence public acceptability of energy and climate policies, such as people’s values, trust in responsible parties and perceived distributive and procedural fairness. She has published multiple papers and book chapters on these topics and leads research projects on these topics where she collaborates with multiple disciplines, national and local governments, businesses, NGO’s and other public and private organisations .
Lorenzo Squintani is Senior Lecturer of European and Economic Law at the University of Groningen. He is founder and member of the managing board of the U4 Environmental Law Network. He is a member of the managing boards of the European Environmental Law Forum (EELF.info), and of the Journal for European Environmental and Planning Law (JEEPL). He is Series Editor of the EELF Book Series. His research and teaching interests include EU substantive law and EU environmental and climate law. He regularly advises Dutch, EU, and/or International institutions on (EU) environmental issues. Goda Perlaviciute and Lorenzo Squintani have established and are directors of the Like!Me Living-lab on effective public participation. It is a research and knowledge co-creation and exchange platform that targets key stakeholders in energy transition, including governing bodies, companies, and the public. The Living-lab conducts theoretically and practically relevant research aimed at better understanding how to effectively engage the public in decision-making on energy transition in order to develop more socially acceptable sustainable energy projects.