The Citizens’ Convention on Climate held an extraordinary online session to discuss the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 crisis within the framework of their mandate, linking the Convention's agenda to recommendations on how the government should start thinking about reopening the economy.
Problems and Purpose
Background History and Context
The Citizens’ Convention on Climate was mandated by the French President in 2019 to identify measures to achieve an objective of reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. In light of the COVID-19 health crisis, the members conducted an online meeting to discuss their contribution to the debate on the exit strategies to the public health crisis.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Convention is organized by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (the Conseil Économique, Social et Environnemental – CESE), which is the third constitutional chamber, an institution independent of the Government.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
150 citizens were randomly selected to achieve a panel representative of the French population (gender, age, level of education, socio-professional categories, residency, and geographical areas).
Methods and Tools Used
Two days of online meetings where the members of the Convention discussed the ins and outs of a plan to find a way out of the COVID-19 crisis and the climate and social issues related to it.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The extraordinary online session led to two outcomes . First, the “Communication to French society and its leaders” is a document that expresses the principles underlying a way out of the crisis that does not lead to the detriment the climate, humans, and biodiversity. The document calls on the government to ensure that "the financing that is mobilized in the framework of crisis recovery is socially acceptable and directed towards green solutions" and that "investments are concentrated in future-oriented climate-friendly sectors." The members also expressed themselves in favor of a "reconfiguration of international relations [...] in a spirit of social justice" with regulation of globalization that is "climate-friendly" and a "relocation of activities in strategic sectors to ensure our food, health and energy security." The Convention also emphasized the necessity of the active participation of citizens in the preparation of policy and the decision-making process.
The second outcome was the transmission of 50 of their 150 proposed measures to the executive. These measures are intended to contribute to “a revival of the economy, to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and, undeniably, to the improvement of our collective health and well-being, while taking into account the most vulnerable populations”. However, the proposals were neither voted on nor finalised by the Convention, which still has to continue its work. The members of the Convention have chosen not to share their proposals with French society before they can hold the final session. During this final session, they will finalise, vote, and present all their proposals publicly, specifying those that could be the subject of a referendum.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
 Citizens’ Convention on Climate, 2020,”Press release,” https://www.conventioncitoyennepourleclimat.fr/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Press-release-Contribution-of-the-CCC-for-a-way-out-of-the-crisis.pdf
 Citizens’ Convention on Climate, 2020, “Communication to French society and its leaders,” https://www.conventioncitoyennepourleclimat.fr/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Contribution-of-the-Citizens’-Convention-on-Climate-for-a-way-out-of-the-crisis.pdf
This case note was built in collaboration with Antonin Lacelle-Webster.