RP2.1-07 Deliberative engagement processes on the role of future fuels in the future low-carbon energy mix in Australia

Executive Summary

Over the last two decades deliberative democratic approaches to dealing with complex societal and environmental matters of local, regional and national importance have rapidly gained popularity across the globe. In particular, deliberative engagement processes have become increasingly popular because of their ability to provide informed and considered public opinion data on often contentious issues, and because they also have the capacity to tap into local knowledge and deal with long-term solutions rather than short term incentives (for example, the Citizens Assemblies on climate change). Deliberation has also been successfully applied when dealing with opinion polarisation; misconceptions and/or divisiveness (for example, see the Irish Constitutional Convention and Citizens’ Assemblies).

This research project facilitated deliberative engagement processes (specifically, “citizens’ panels”) to investigate the role of future fuels in Australia’s future low-carbon energy mix. Each process involved a group of citizens randomly selected to be broadly representative of the adult population in the focal location or who were chosen to represent a targeted social group, along with expert presentations on matters and topics relevant to the deliberations. Consistent with social distancing requirements during the covid-19 pandemic online citizens panels were convened.

By hosting these citizens’ panels this project aimed to: 1) outline challenges, opportunities and priority actions that will help Australia to deliver the full potential of a low-carbon energy future; and 2) identify issues, benefits, drawbacks and trade-offs related to the implementation of future fuels in Australia’s energy mix. Via the use of the citizens’ panels approach to deliberative engagement the research surfaced and examined public preferences towards the role of gas and future fuels in the future low-carbon energy mix.

More information:

Project summary – FFCRC RP2.1-07 citizens panels on future fuels (click on green text to access)

Report on three citizens panels run in 2021 (Greater Melbourne panel, South Australian panel, and Illawarra/Wollongong region panel): Three online citizens’ panels were completed in 2021 and the associated interim project report and citizens’ panels technical appendices have been made publicly available. Click on links to access to these reports.

Report on citizens’ panels run in 2022, one involving younger participants from across Australia, and another involving participants from Western Australia: The CRC has made this project report and the technical appendices open access. (Click on links to access)

Final project report (open access)

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Commencement / End Date August 2020 to November 2022
Outcomes / Impact

The citizens’s panels will inform the gas industry and wider policymakers about what roles for gas and future fuels are considered appropriate and/or valuable by informed publics (i.e. process participants) via the development of informed and considered public opinion data.

These research outcomes may assist industry in maintaining its social licence and ensuring gas and future fuels have a role to play in the zero-carbon energy transition.

Partners University of Queensland, Jemena, APA Group, South Australian Government (DEM), GPA Engineering, AusNet Services, ATCO, Evoenergy, AGIG
Research Contact

Dr Stephen McGrail

Research and Education Program Coordinator