Even before Kyoto: Citizens spoke out on climate protection
Climate-friendly energy supply is a topic that has once again become the focus of public interest as a result of the climate protection conference in Kyoto. But what action would so-called "ordinary citizens" take to save our future? Last year, 220 citizens were given the opportunity to deal intensively with climate protection and to design a catalog of measures in a 4-day citizens' forum. Even the proposals on which the majority could agree would be enough to achieve a noticeable reduction in CO2 emissions. The situation at the climate protection conference in Kyoto, Japan seems pretty hopeless. The number of different viewpoints and proposals is too great for a worldwide agreement on an effective reduction of emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 to be within reach. In contrast, as early as 1996, the citizens of the state developed concrete measures for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, at least in Baden-Württemberg. In eleven "citizens' forums", 220 randomly selected participants spent four days each dealing with the topic of "climate-friendly energy supply". The Academy for Technology Assessment in Baden-Württemberg (Stuttgart) wanted to involve citizens in the design of a future, environmentally compatible energy supply. However: "There was no scenario that could achieve the federal government's goal of a 25% CO2 reduction with the full consensus of all citizens involved," says Wolfgang Weimer-Jehle, co-organizer of the citizens' forums, a conclusion. The Academy is therefore investigating how at least partial reductions can be achieved on the basis of a broad consensus. Notable result so far: Measures approved by the vast majority of participants would noticeably reduce CO2 emissions.
According to the results of the forums, 80 percent of the citizens involved would agree to a catalog of measures that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 13 percent. To do this, the average fuel consumption of the passenger car fleet would have to be reduced to 6.4 l/100 km and the heating energy requirement would have to be reduced by around 20 percent compared to 1990 through the renovation of old buildings and higher requirements for new buildings. In addition, living spaces and water in households would have to be heated more with natural gas, district heating and renewable energies instead of heating oil.
Also 80 percent of the participants had no objection to reducing electricity generation from coal by around half for climate protection reasons. In addition, the majority advocated significantly reducing the use of nuclear energy despite its contribution to low-CO2 electricity generation. For this purpose, natural gas in modern combined cycle power plants and regenerative energy sources are to be used more intensively to generate electricity.
And 80% of the citizens' experts also expect industry to use energy more effectively: an increase in efficiency of around 28% as a contribution to climate protection, which goes beyond the industry's previous self-commitment of a 20% increase in efficiency.
The citizens' forums took place in six cities in Baden-Württemberg under the direction of the Academy. The participants were first prepared for their task through specialist presentations and group work. In small groups, the participants were able to work out their own energy scenarios with computer support. In addition, three expert proposals for future energy supply had to be evaluated.