Participation of civil society is one of three key mechanisms of democracy (Lindskog and Elander 2010) and thereby crucial to effectively addressing socially complex problems (Kahane 2010) such as climate change. The principle of civil society engagement in global governance of climate change is enshrined through the United Nations to ensure that actors with differing perspectives and interests are incorporated to address socially complex global challenges. 22,000 accredited civil society representatives registered to attend the Copenhagen climate talks as observers, in addition public protests involved approximately 100,000 people on the streets of Copenhagen (similarly large citizen protests were held internationally). Despite such high levels of involvement, criticisms of exclusion, marginalisation and voicelessness of civil society have formed the common refrain. Following the outcome of the 2009 Copenhagen Conference, these criticisms raise questions about the essential nature and extent of civil society participation in international climate change negotiations as “authentic, inclusive and consequential” (Dryzek 2009); and how the diversity of civil society interests can and should be represented in global fora. In this paper we explore how deliberative processes could be utilised to increase the capacity of civil society to participate in future climate change discourse and also consider the potential of participatory processes to engage and empower ordinary citizens. We draw on observations of deliberative practices across multiples scales as a basis for theorising how participation could influence and/or offset prevailing power and interests around climate change governance. The paper draws on research outcomes from two deliberative processes, firstly, local Australian grassroots community-based climate action groups and; secondly, global deliberation undertaken in the lead up to the Copenhagen talks. Based on these findings, we propose potential ways in which the deliberative space can increase the capacity of civil society and citizens to participate in future climate change deliberations.