In nine “Citizen Action Labs” in eight countries, the DIALOGUES team, accompanied by a wide variety of implementation partners, experimented with energy citizenship in many different ways. The CALs are about listening to the voices of citizens, their ideas and imaginaries around the energy transition, as well as their roles as individuals and in their communities. The in-depth analyses of these events, of the participants’ imagery of the present and future role of energy in their lifeworld will complement and enrich the findings from the literature studies, the netnography, and theoretical work in the project. Below are first results on three CALs in Italy and Switzerland.
The Citizen Action Lab in the Umbrian town of Città di Castello sought to involve participants un- or only vaguely familiar with the energy transition: older people, single mothers, people on welfare, with a migratory background. With the social services of the city administration, Caritas and an association of senior citizens, UniTre as implementing partners, the research team, Climate Alliance Italy and University Rome 3 were hoping to mobilise hard-to-reach groups. We did, even though the majority of the 20 participants were astoundingly well-informed senior citizens. All of them were very much aware of the important role of energy in their lives – not the least because of economic reasons. The participation of hard-to-reach groups was not satisfactory and there more work needs to be done, be it in the development of strategies of recruitment, be it in the methodology and structure of the events. For the majority of the participating citizens the way to deeper energy citizenship, e.g., in the form of energy communities, must be mapped out by local public institutions or private organisations.
In Geneva, the Citizen Action Lab took place across four territories or towns that are representative of higher income populations, although there is also quite some diversity in lifestyles – from people living in social housing, to private villas. The aim was to arrive at a series of initiatives that could be implemented by and for citizens, in line with the State climate action plan. Four events were hosted in each of the four towns, with a fifth and final event where 16 initiatives were detailed and prioritised. During the forums, citizens discussion images of the future in relation to wellbeing, sufficiency measures in buildings, but were also able to ‘meet the experts’ to get answers to some pressing questions. The final initiatives can be grouped into four main themes: mobility, food, sufficiency and citizen participation. The results are being presented to local officials and will be shared with the press and citizen collectives in the coming months.
The preliminary results of three CALs – in Italy and Switzerland – demonstrate that people are able to deliberate on how to overcome barriers to an energy transition. While individual actions tend to dominate their imaginaries, such forums contribute to a new imaginaries on collective action.
Karl Ludwig Schibel, Climate Alliance Italy; Marlyne Sahakian and Mallory Zhan, University of Geneva
Karl Ludwig Schibel
Climate Alliance Italy
Marlyne Sahakian and Mallory Zhan
University of Geneva