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Net Zero Task Force, Meeting Minutes, 10th January 2023

Attendees

Sue Goodfellow

Gill Westcott

Lyndis Cole

Patrick Devine-Wright

Olly Frankland

Harry Bonnell

Laura Cardenas

Apologies

Hannah Lawrie

Iain Stewart

Conny Guell

Nik Bowyer

Ian Bailey

Tim Jones

James Shorten

Ian Hutchcroft

Secretariat

Emily Reed

Charlotte Brown

Doug Eltham

1. Matters arising from previous minutes

Minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as a true record of the meeting.

Actions carried over:

ACTION: Charlotte and Emily to consider how a business badge system could work.

ACTION: Emily to circulate the business slide deck to the Task Force members.

Doug reported back that the Devon and Cornwall Planning Officers Group (DPOG), which was attended by two Task Force Members, were very receptive to supporting the delivery of the Devon Carbon Plan. Tim Jones and James Shorten are to attend the meeting of the DCPOG again in March.

Doug also raised that the government are consulting on updates to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which is an opportunity to feedback to fulfil and enable actions in the Devon Carbon Plan.

ACTION: The secretariat to respond to the NPPF consultation on behalf of the Task Force, drawing on the findings of the Devon Climate Assembly.

Gill raised that comments could also include the need for planning authorities to have a greater ability to object to submissions on the grounds that they were not compatible with net-zero targets.

Olly said that whilst the draft text for the revised NPPF mentions climate change it doesn’t explicitly mention the national net-zero targets and that it ought to.

2. Progress and Communications Report

Charlotte gave an update on the communications activity described in the Progress Report.

Patrick commented that he felt the results presented by the University of Exeter students were representative of this age group. He questioned what we planned to do going forward. Charlotte agreed that the partnership should attend more student events such as fairs and use greater visual content. Emily added we’ll be looking to use more videos rather than text-based posts on social media. Alice Moseley at Exeter University has suggested working together to establish a consultative forum with students to feed into future activity. Gill added that the power of celebrity could be used to cause more of a buzz than just using social media alone – who are they following and why?

Olly noted that there were a number of bids from the county for the Innovate UK Net-Zero Living fund. Later in the month, once we know which bids were successful, it would be useful to review these to collate learnings and the activity each area wanted to deliver.

Emily presented the activity update about the Carbon Plan and the Adaptation Plan and asked for questions and comments.

Lyndis asked to what extent the Adaptation Plan is linked to the Carbon Plan as the adaptation options need to capture the opportunities for pursuing mitigation and adaptation simultaneously. Doug and Emily assured Lyndis that this had been an ongoing consideration in the Climate Impacts Group.

3. Governance

Doug presented the latest proposals for how activity in the Devon Carbon Plan and Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Plan will be overseen, scrutinised and reported on.

The proposals have been updated following meetings and workshops with a range of stakeholders and a review of case studies of others’ climate action plan governance arrangements.

The Tactical Group will continue, but re-focused as a practitioner group for knowledge sharing. The Response Group want to continue to meet monthly online, but with periodic in person meetings and site visits.

There is a recognition that greater face to face engagement with the public, including youth, is needed. Therefore, the partnership will aim to attend a greater number of public events.

Partners democratic scrutiny processes, such as local authority statutory scrutiny bodies and oversight groups will continue to hold the partnership accountable.

The Net Zero Task Force will be expanded to include adaptation expertise and be renamed the Climate Task Force.

A yearly event or forum will bring together community groups and partner organisations, allowing for the sharing of presentations, open space sessions and an opportunity for questions and feedback.

The secretariat are reviewing online platforms, such as Zynapse or Slack, which could facilitate knowledge sharing and progress reporting. DCC ICT are helping in this review.

Lyndis reminded the group that a concern raised previously by the Task Force was the need to be as responsive and quick acting as possible. She remains concerned that the current proposals won’t increase the speed of response adequately.

Doug responded that an increase in the rate of response needs to be facilitated by an increase of resource to the delivery groups identified. Lyndis countered that existing groups can get stuck in business as usual mode and that there needs to be an injection of urgency. Doug highlighted that the Forum and democratic scrutiny groups will remind groups of the urgency.

Gill asked how the online platform would be used. Doug said he envisaged that there would be a dashboard listing the actions, their status and a commentary on issues being encountered by action.

Patrick raised that a more explicit periodic review and evaluation of how well the governance is working is needed, as well as the resource to conduct this. Doug responded that the Response Group said at their January meeting they would like the governance structure to remain under constant review.

ACTION: The secretariat to embed a periodic review of the governance structure into the terms of reference of groups such as the Response Group.

Patrick suggested that the forum be renamed, for example a parliament, in order to inspire more excitement. He also proposed that members of the Assembly are invited to participate in the annual event.

Patrick questioned whether the size of the expanded Climate Task Force has been considered, as this will have implications on the manageability of the group and how it conducts its meeting. However, Doug said that it is unlikely all members will attend every meeting and that attendance will be shaped by the agenda.  

Sue asked how individuals will be able to clearly see progress on the Devon Carbon Plan and relate to the process, including opportunities to collaborate with local groups to take action on climate change. Currently it looks like a closed shop of who can be involved.

Doug agreed that this presentation doesn’t meet that need, but that the website and community engagement proposals need to meet this purpose.

Sue asked if there will be contact names which we will be publicly shared for individuals and community groups in Devon to reach out to if they want to get involved.

Doug said that we are promoting opportunities for public action through our communications strategy, however many of the priority actions require action at a strategic level.

Lyndis agreed that we do need to have a clearer interface on the website to signpost to people how they can get engaged. Harry agreed that this does need to happen, but also we need to bring people inside organisations together.

Laura asked about how the effectiveness of the Plan is going to be monitored. Emily said we’ll be using the monitoring indicators at Chapter 12 of the Plan.

Sue commented that the cross-cutting aspects need to be able to influence all the sectors of the Plan. Doug responded that, having mapped the stakeholder groups, there are many individuals who currently sit on more than one of the identified delivery and oversight groups. This provides cross-pollination.

Olly raised concerns about the resource requirement for the secretariat of the new structure. Doug said he felt more comfortable about the resource requirements of the new proposals. Emily highlighted that the IT systems for groups to self-report on progress against actions is a key mechanism to reduce the workload for the secretariat.

It was AGREED that the secretariat should continue to develop the presented proposals.

Patrick would like to see more development of strategy for public engagement.

Patrick also requested greater clarity regarding the process of transition between the Net Zero Task Force and the Climate Task Force. For instance, how members will be selected, including those from the existing Net Zero Task Force. Also, two in person meetings a year for the Climate Task Force would be good.

ACTION: Secretariat to prepare plans for a transition to a Climate Task Force.

4. New greenhouse gas emissions data (2020)

Doug introduced a paper shared with the Task Force on the greenhouse gas emissions for Devon (including Torbay and Plymouth) which have been updated by the University of Exeter using the enhanced data issued by central government for 2020. The figures show a significant reduction in road transport emissions due to the effect of Covid-19 restrictions. On average across Devon, a year-on-year reduction of 9% was achieved; this is the magnitude of linear reduction in emissions necessary each year to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, a target adopted by many districts. Sustaining this level of reduction over the next ten years will be challenging as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic lessens.

A discontinuity in the time series has resulted from methodology changes; but this is of relatively small magnitude (a 1.7% increase in emissions from 2017 to 2018 shown in the dataset).

ACTION: Secretariat to share the methodology paper and spreadsheet for the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions data.

5. AOB

Olly said the Net-Zero Living bids should be announced on Friday 13th January 2022.

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