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Publication Detail
Bringing climate change into participatory budgeting: a good idea at the wrong time?
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Cohen TWD
  • Date awarded:
  • Supervisors:
    Jones PM
  • Status:
  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
  • Language:
  • Date Submitted:
  • Keywords:
    climate change, citizen participation, participatory budgeting, local government
This thesis reports on the development and testing of a form of participatory budgeting in which citizens are asked to choose from a set of local authority interventions whilst having to comply with two constraints – one financial and the other relating to greenhouse gas emissions. The project has its roots in the weak performance to date of the local government sector in responding to climate change, despite its considerable influence. It is also informed by the troubled relationship between local authorities and citizens. Participatory budgeting is selected as the starting point because it has been found to draw a larger and more diverse audience than more orthodox forms of citizen participation and because it can present participants with a requirement to trade off priorities. The core of the thesis describes the design and development of “participatory emissions budgeting”, a central aspect being the estimation of emissions attributable to local authority interventions. This culminates in formal trials of the method with citizens, followed by quantitative and qualitative evaluation. The method is then presented to a range of local authority stakeholders to gauge their views concerning its potential application. Participatory emissions budgeting is found to be technically feasible: participants consistently arrive, through deliberation, at choice sets that comply with the constraints set. Whilst they report finding the experience interesting and enjoyable, they are critical of the imposition of an emission constraint, in the context of general scepticism concerning the value or legitimacy of tackling climate change through such a decision-making process. Local authority stakeholders see some value in the method but would not wish to apply it as designed – to decide on the allocation of resources. They would rather use it to support decision making within their organisations, as a market-research or educational tool.
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