気候市民会議さっぽろ2020

Climate Assembly Sapporo 2020: Japan’s first citizens’ assembly on climate change

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Citizens’ assemblies on climate change that involve randomly selected members of the public have recently become prevalent as an innovative mechanism to organize public deliberation on methods to achieve a zero-carbon society. Assembly results can be used to inform the climate policy decision makers of national and local governments.

Since 2019, citizens’ assemblies on climate change have been widely held in European countries such as France and the UK. A team of six research institutions, including Hokkaido University, Osaka University, and National Institute for Environmental Studies, in collaboration with the city government of Sapporo and local intermediary organizations, held Japan’s first such assembly in November and December 2020 in Sapporo City (population of approximately 1.95 million), the prefectural capital of Hokkaido.

Considering the worsening climate crisis and the necessity for immediate global action, the city of Sapporo declared the goal of becoming a “Zero-carbon City,” or achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions within the city by 2050. Many other local governments in Japan have committed to the “Zero-carbon City” target by 2050. Furthermore, in October 2020, the Japanese government also declared the goal of realizing carbon neutrality by 2050. Over the next few decades, major changes and transformations will be required in every aspect of society, such as economic and social mechanisms, urban development, transportation, relationships with nature, and lifestyle.

Climate Assembly Sapporo 2020 was convened with these needed transformations as the focus of discussion. For the conference, 20 people that reflected the city demographics were randomly selected from approximately 1.72 million Sapporo citizens aged 16 and over.

The participants held four 4-hour-long online discussions on “How Sapporo should transform into a zero-carbon society.” The participants listened to information provided by 11 expert witnesses, participated in question-and-answer sessions, and discussed various topics in groups of four people. After deliberation, they voted on 70 items, including the vision of a zero-carbon society and the desired timing of its realization.

The online conference was held for three main purposes as part of action research on “Designing climate citizens’ assemblies for just transition” (JSPS-KAKENHI, JP20H04387).

The initial objective was to convene the first citizens’ assembly on climate change in Japan. By doing so, we aimed to apply the citizens’ assembly model for wide dissemination in Japanese society. The second objective was to implement the findings of the assembly through practical efforts to combat climate change in Sapporo. Third, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also aimed to develop and disseminate experience in the management and operation of online citizen conferences.

Under the main theme of “How Sapporo should transform into a zero-carbon society,” the assembly focused on three issues: “future visions of a zero-carbon society,” “energy,” and “mobility, urban development and lifestyle.”

To prepare the agenda, the organizer referred to the draft of the “Climate Change Action Plan,” which the city government was preparing at this point and later formulated in March 2021. We also consulted expert advisors in various fields. We asked for advice from members of the Sapporo City Environmental Council as well as local young people who were working on climate change issues.

Over four sessions, the assembly discussed the three issues one by one. In each session, the participants were divided into groups of four for deliberation after receiving information from officials of the city government and expert witnesses in related fields such as climate science, energy, architecture, and city planning. After deliberation, the participants expressed their views on each issue through individual voting.

The voting results show that participants agreed that the city should take active steps to reasonably achieve the goal of net zero by 2050. Approximately one-third (7 out of 20) of the participants believed that the net zero target should be completed before 2050, the city’s current pledge.

During voting, the participants expressed their vision for Sapporo’s future as a zero-carbon society. Most participants strongly supported future visions such as “dramatic improvements in housing insulation performance,” “increased environmental education in schools,” “resilience to disasters through the increased availability of storage batteries,” “expansion of energy-saving office buildings and commercial facilities,” “rich natural environment,” “conservation of recreation spaces such as parks,” “public participation in climate change issues,” “securing individual choice and convenience,” “expansion of renewable energy,” and “regulations on vehicles that emit CO2.”

However, participants showed differing judgments concerning future vision items such as “simpleness and calmness in life,” “reform in economic and social systems,” “active use of bicycles,” “reduction of private car use and a de-motorized society,” and “lifestyle that is comparable to the present.” It was suggested that further discussions among residents are necessary regarding these subjects.

The organizer published the results on January 19, 2021, officially delivering it to the city government on January 25. The results have been used in the city’s climate policy for formulating and implementing the Climate Change Action Plan, which targets net zero emissions by 2050.

The results of the citizens’ assembly on climate change in Sapporo indicate that this model can be an effective approach in Japanese society to address climate change issues with sufficient public participation and deliberation.

Theme

How should Sapporo transform into a zero-carbon society?

Issues

ISSUE1: Future visions of a zero-carbon society
What characteristics should the city of Sapporo exhibit when it has achieved a net zero emission target? Upon what principles and considerations should the transition be based and how quickly should they be implemented?

ISSUE2: Road to transition (1) Energy
How should we promote energy efficiency and expand the application of renewable energy to reduce emissions from energy use in homes and businesses?

ISSUE3: Road to transition (2) Mobility, urban development, and lifestyle
How should we promote zero emissions in transportation and decarbonized city planning? What kind of mechanisms and efforts are necessary to encourage a shift to decarbonized lifestyles and work habits?

Program

Schedule Date & Time Activity
DAY1 Sun. Nov. 6 13:00–17:00 – Basic information on climate change
– Discussion on ISSUE1: Future vision of a zero-carbon society
DAY2 Sun. Nov. 22 13:00–17:00 – Information and discussion on ISSUE2: Energy
DAY3 Sun. Dec.6 13:00–17:00 – Information and discussion on ISSUE3: Mobility, urban development, and lifestyle
– Voting on ISSUE2 and ISSUE3
DAY4 Sun. Dec. 20 13:00–17:00 – Information and discussion on ISSUE1: Future vision of a zero-carbon society
– Voting on ISSUE1

About the organizer

Organizer:

Climate Assembly Sapporo 2020 Organizing Committee (composed of eight researchers from Hokkaido University, Osaka University, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Meiji University, and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)

Collaborators:

City of Sapporo
Hokkaido Environment Foundation
RCE Hokkaido Central

Climate Assembly Sapporo 2020 Organizing Committee

Organizing Committee members

Name Affiliation Fields of expertise
Naoyuki Mikami
(Principal Investigator)
Associate Professor,
Institute for the Advancement of Higher Education,
Hokkaido University,
Environmental sociology;
science and technology
Ekou Yagi Professor,
CO Design Center, Osaka University,
Science and technology
studies; psychology of disaster
Seita Emori Vice Director,
Center for Global Environmental Research,
National Institute for Environmental Studies
Future prediction and risk of climate change
Tetsuki Tamura Professor,
Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University
Politics; political theory
Masahiro Matsuura Professor,
Professional Graduate School of Governance,
Meiji University
Consensus building;
negotiation studies
Yasushi Ikebe Senior Chief in Science Communication
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
Science communication
Mitsuru Kudo Specially Appointed Lecturer,
CO Design Center, Osaka University
Science and Technology Studies,
Science Communication
Akane Iwasaki Communicator,
Social Dialogue and Co-production Office,
National Institute for Environmental Studies
Science communication

Observers (Collaborators)

Name Affiliation
Akihiro Satake Section Chief of Environmental Policy,
Eco-City Promotion Department, Environmental Bureau, Sapporo City
Takahiro Yamanishi Section Chief of Climate Policy
Eco-City Promotion Department, Environmental Bureau, Sapporo City
Manabu Kubota Vice Secretary General,
Hokkaido Environment Foundation
Miki Arisaka Secretary General,
RCE Hokkaido Central