This Observatory briefing note presents the key findings of a mapping of public engagement with energy, climate change, and net zero occurring in the UK between 2015-2022. The study used the comparative case analysis method developed by the Observatory to map and analyse 284 diverse cases of public engagement occurring between 2015-2022 in terms of how people are engaging, who is involved, and what they are engaging in.

While it is often assumed that the public lack knowledge or are disengaged, our analysis shows that publics are already engaged in many different ways around energy, climate change and net zero. The Observatory’s mapping shows how these engagements are always ongoing, emergent, and interrelate in a wider ecology of participation. It traces the changing ways that citizens are engaging, including recent rises in activism, citizen assemblies, technology demonstrations, and digital engagement, highlights the different plural publics engaging in these processes, and reveals shifts in what people are engaging in around broader climate change, sustainability, and social dimensions in addition to the more technical aspects of energy systems.

Given these findings the briefing recommends that it is necessary to: better recognise and respond to diverse public engagements with energy, climate change, and net zero; attend to public engagements as continually emerging and interrelating in wider systems; and develop systemic approaches that encompass different forms of public engagement across issues, organisations, sectors, and systems.