2. The Devon Climate Assembly 

2. The Devon Climate Assembly 

Figure 1: A screen shot of some of the Devon Climate Assembly participants taken from a Zoom meeting.

The Devon Climate Assembly, a 70-strong representative panel of Devon’s residents, met in June and July of 2021 for a total of 25 hours.  

The facilitation of the Citizens’ Assembly was undertaken by a charity called Involve. Involve specialise in complex consultations and is dedicated to ensuring that people are able to influence public policy, putting people at the heart of decision making. Involve led the process of selecting and training  the participants, facilitated the debates during the Assembly sessions and supported the Assembly to produce a series of recommendations. 

Assembly members heard evidence from a range of perspectives and discussed this evidence in depth with each other in order to answer the overarching question: how should Devon meet the big challenges of climate change? 

This overarching question was broken down into sub-topics for the Assembly to consider. They deliberated three issues listed below for reaching net-zero that were not resolved in the Interim Devon Carbon Plan (IDCP). The IDCP identified challenging issues for potential consideration by the Devon Climate Assembly covering onshore wind, retrofitting buildings, encouraging less car use, and the implications of climate change and a requirement to reduce livestock emissions on the rural economy and landscape.  

These were found to be of equal importance to the public through a previous public consultation. The partnership then refined these into three topics, with assistance from the facilitators of the Assembly. It was decided that the issues of landscape and livestock emissions would get further public input through the planned update of the Devon Landscape Character Assessments and from the Ruby Country Net Zero Beef Farming Forum and therefore these did not need consideration by the Assembly. 

The overarching question was broken down into three key topics for the Assembly to consider

What should be the role of onshore wind in the Devon renewable energy strategy?

What needs to be done to encourage less car use in Devon?

What would be the best ways of encouraging, or requiring, people to retrofit their homes, properties or business premises to reduce carbon emissions?

The Assembly generated recommendations in the form of resolutions, conditions and supporting recommendations. A report on the conclusions of the Assembly members , which also explains the process in full,  was presented to the Devon Climate Emergency partnership in October 2021. This included a breakdown of the voting results and the supporting statements prepared by members for each resolution, condition and supporting recommendation.