This UKERC briefing note explains the background of the UKERC Observatory, and why a new approach to public engagement with energy and climate change is needed. It shows that meaningful public engagement is now seen as crucial to addressing the challenges of energy transitions and climate change. While these are profoundly systemic problems, most approaches to public engagement are not, focusing on discrete and often one-off forms of participation in specific parts of wider systems. UKERC has been at the forefront of moves to develop more systemic approaches to public participation and engagement, including through its Public Engagement Observatory. The briefing note summarises this previous work and lays out the Observatory’s approach and aims.