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DEVON CLIMATE ASSEMBLY

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ABOUT DEVON CLIMATE ASSEMBLY

Devon Climate Emergency held a citizens’ assembly to consider how Devon should meet the big challenges of climate change.

WHY HOST THE DEVON CLIMATE ASSEMBLY?

Many people in Devon contributed to producing the Interim Devon Carbon Plan with actions to tackle climate change. But it identified some big challenges which require further discussion. Therefore, we held a citizens’ assembly to put the views of the general public at the centre of Devon’s action on climate change. A representative sample of 70 Devon citizens from different social backgrounds, including young people over the age of 16 were invited to take part in the Devon Climate Assembly.

The assembly focused on transport, energy and land use which prior public consultation has said need further discussion. They considered how we can create a Devon where people and nature thrive, including benefits such as warmer, more efficient homes; healthier and more active lifestyles; changing workplaces and emerging industries; and ways to enhance wildlife in our urban and rural areas. 

The Devon Climate Emergency partnership, which includes all Devon’s Local Authorities, responded to each of the recommendations of the assembly to complete the Devon Carbon Plan. 

WHAT IS A CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY?

A citizens’ assembly brings together a group of people who learn about issues, discuss them with one another, and then make recommendations about what should happen, and how things should change. 

An assembly is typically made up of between 50 and 250 people who are randomly selected to reflect the wider population in terms of demographics (for example age, gender, ethnicity, income) and sometimes relevant attitudes, such as their views on climate change. 

Citizens’ assemblies give members of the public the time and opportunity to learn about and discuss a topic. Participants are presented with evidence by a wide range of specialists, for example, academics, researchers, people with direct experience of the issue, other stakeholders and campaigners. Through this process, they hear balanced evidence on the issue, before discussing what they have heard with one another and deciding what they think. 

Citizens’ assemblies usually last for two or more weekends. Independent, expert facilitators are always present to help ensure everyone’s voice is heard. The conclusions of the citizens’ assembly are written up in a report that is presented to decision-makers and is made publicly available. 

Citizens’ assemblies have been used at local and national levels since 2004 in countries such as Canada, Ireland, Australia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK. Find out more about how and where citizens’ assemblies have been used before in this report by the University of Exeter.

HOW WERE ASSEMBLY MEMBERS SELECTED?

Citizens’ assemblies use a broadly representative sample of a specific population to create recommendations that have been informed by a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

The Sortition Foundation recruited assembly members using a process known as a ‘civic lottery.’ This is recognised internationally as the gold standard method for recruiting citizens’ assembly members.

Recruitment began with inviting people from across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay to apply using a postal civic lottery. 14,000 letters inviting people to register their interest in taking part were sent to randomly selected households. Any person aged 16 or over living in a household that received an invitation were able to register their interest in participating by telephone or online. Respondents then completed a form asking a number of questions that helped us select members so that the whole assembly was demographically representative of Devon. 

In order to create an assembly that is broadly representative of Devon, members were selected from the pool of respondents based on seven different criteria:

  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity 
  • Levels of deprivation including income, education and health  
  • Geography (seven members were selected from each of the 10 local authority areas) 
  • Rurality (which included selecting residents from Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks) 
  • Disability 
  • Attitude towards climate change  

WHAT DID THE ASSEMBLY DISCUSS?

Devon Climate Assembly discussed the important question:

 

HOW SHOULD DEVON MEET THE BIG CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE?

 

The assembly focused on three big climate challenges which prior public consultation has said need further discussion. These challenges are: the role of onshore wind energy in Devon’s energy mix, how to encourage people to use their cars less, whilst retaining mobility and the issue of building retrofit. The assembly was split into three streams, each stream focusing on one of theses three challenges.

EVIDENCE

 Assembly members heard evidence from a broad range of perspectives and are discussed this evidence in depth with each other in order to answer the question: how should Devon meet the big challenges of climate change? To watch the presentations given, follow the link below.

HOW WILL THE ASSEMBLY RECOMMENDATIONS BE USED?

The recommendations from the Devon Climate Assembly were considered by the Net-Zero Task Force and the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and relevant actions were incorporated into the Final Devon Carbon Plan. The Devon Carbon Plan is an evidence-led plan that sets out how Devon can reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

THE DEVON CLIMATE ASSEMBLY REPORT

This report was a major milestone for the Devon Climate Emergency project, as the findings presented here reflect the priorities of the Devon citizens’ assembly in tackling the climate emergency, and informed the final iteration of our Devon Carbon Plan. We hope you enjoy reading their reflections, which have now been transformed into deliverable actions.

OVERVIEW OF THE RESULTS

The Devon Climate Assembly produced 14 Resolutions across the three categories. Each resolution is attended by specific conditions, which you can find in the Devon Climate Assembly Report. Members voted on each resolution, and the percentage of support for each is given after the statement in figures 1 and 2 below.

Figure 1: 1-7 of the resolutions created by the Devon Climate Assembly.

Figure 2: 8-14 of the resolutions created by the Devon Climate Assembly.

RESPONDING TO THE DEVON CLIMATE ASSEMBLY

Following the publication of the Devon Climate Assembly Report, the Devon Climate emergency partnership began working on responses to the resolutions and conditions that the Assembly produced. The partnership then asked the public for feedback on their responses via a public consultation which took place between the 19th March and the 14th of April 2022. This consultation was the public’s final opportunity to comment the release of the final Devon Carbon Plan. You can read the findings of this consultation in the following report.

NEWS & UPDATES

Click the button below to keep up to date with the latest news from the Devon Climate Assembly.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I observe the assembly meetings?

All the assembly meetings took place online. All evidence sessions were recorded, and made available shortly after each weekend. If you’re interested you can watch these sessions on our YouTube channel.

The deliberations between assembly members are private and it is not possible for observers to listen to or participate in those discussions. 

Where can I see the final recommendations made by the assembly?

During the Assembly, members used the information they received to create recommendations that were delivered to the Net-Zero Task Force and the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group to inform the Final Devon Carbon Plan. These recommendations were made available to the public via this website in October 2021. 

How can I stay in touch?

THE NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSEMBLY

 

On a national scale, there has been a UK wide Climate Assembly UK which brought together 100+ people from all walks of life and all shades of opinion to discuss how the UK should reach net zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

The assembly members met over six weekends in Spring 2020. They heard balanced evidence on the choices the UK faces, discussed them, and made recommendations about what the UK should do to become net zero by 2050. Their final report was published on Thursday 10 September 2020.

DCE has been observing this process carefully to see how it can help shape the Devon Citizens’ Assembly.

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