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Net-Zero Task Force Meeting Minutes 18th June

Net Zero Task Force Draft Minutes 14th May 2020. Download a PDF copy of the minutes here.

Expected attendees:

Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
Kerry Hayes
Gill Westcott
Harry Bonnell
Nik Bowyer
James Shorten
Hannah Lawrie
Ian Hutchcroft
Tim Jones
Ellie Rowlands
Emily Reed
Doug Eltham
Laura Cardenas
Lyndis Cole
Ian Bailey
Rebecca Sandover


Iain Stewart
Cornelia Guell
Sue Goodfellow

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

It was AGREED that the minutes are a true record of the discussion.

Outstanding actions carried over from the May Task Force meeting:

ACTION: Tim Jones to clarify his thoughts on developing an asset register and let Emily know. 

ACTION: Kerry to write up her thoughts on the National Assembly and ideas that should be carried into our own. 

ACTION: Nik to arrange to meet with James and Lyndis to discuss the spatial framework further. 

ACTION: Tim to share information about his exploration of the barriers and opportunities relating to the ownership of assets in the National Parks, in relation to natural capital restoration and preservation, and financial mechanisms to support this. 

ACTION: Tim to put the Task Force in contact with GWR & Stagecoach project to trial using hydrogen to fuel public transport in the South West. 

ACTION: Emily to report back on the data sets available to aid characterizing Devon.

ACTION: Identify who can assess the actions for finance opportunities and their economic dimension.

ACTION: Consider carbon offsetting in more detail at a future meeting and define if further research is needed. 

Emily introduced Rebecca Sandover, who was to observe the meeting as part of the ESRC funded research into the effectiveness of the engagement around the Carbon Plan production.

2. Questions and comments on the Net Zero Task Force Progress Report

Gill raised concerns over the progress of the research briefs to seek further information to support actions in the Carbon Plan. Emily explained that the priority has been drafting Devon Carbon Plan 1 and that after this there would be more time to progress the research briefs.

Tim signposted the new deal for housing coming and the current appraisal of the planning system underway and that the Task Force needs to be ready to respond. There will be a call from the government for major projects for a post Covid recovery ready to go. Tim also highlighted increased activity on hydrogen in Europe.

Doug responded with an update on the Covid-recovery work underway in Devon, its explicit desire to contribute to tackling climate change and its alignment with Tim’s request that we are prepared for government calls for projects.

Ian Hutchcroft reported that he has fed into the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government request to Local Enterprise Partnerships for shovel ready projects.

ACTION: Patrick requested a standing agenda item on Covid-recovery work and its inclusion in the progress report.

Patrick questioned the timetable for public consultation on the Devon Carbon Plan 1.

Doug advised that we need to try to stay on track for the consultation to start in September . For this to happen, a draft plan needs to be available by the end of July to allow the project partners the month of August to sign-off the draft for consultation.

3. Feedback on the Regen report from the workshop held on the 22nd May

Doug updated the Task Force on the Regen report and requested feedback on it, as well as clarification of the Miro Board annotations.

ACTION: Emily and Doug to speak with Task Force members regarding clarification of the Miro Board annotations where unclear.

ACTION: Task Force members to give feedback on the report if they have time by the 25th June.

Ian Hutchcroft commented that he felt the workshop was not sufficiently focused on the high impact actions to decarbonise Devon and reiterated that the actions developed need to be SMART. Ian also highlighted that we ought to focus on actions which the partners of the Devon Climate Emergency can implement themselves. These actions he argued should be costed with a business model and we should focus on fewer actions. He urged the Task Force to remember it is an emergency.

Lyndis urged that carbon storage in soil must be a focus and questioned if all comments in the chat box were captured and reflected in the Regen report.

ACTION: Emily to check if the Zoom chat box questions were captured during the workshop.

Gill raised concerns that planning was not reflected as a cross cutting theme on the Miro board.

4. Presentation by Andrew Rowson of his analysis of the draft Devon Carbon Plan Actions

A) Presentation & Q&A

Andrew Rowson, Exeter University, presented his analysis of the draft Devon Carbon Plan actions, which includes a ranking of their ease and impact.

Ian Hutchcroft highlighted that “deliver” needs to be the focus of the plan and where individual actions overlap they need to be streamlined to be more focused.

ACTION: Emily to arrange for Andrew to speak with theme leads to refine the ranking of the actions and to allow for feedback.

ACTION: Emily and Andrew to simplify the presentation of the spreadsheet for the Task Force.

Andrew commented that he felt path dependency was a key consideration, some actions need doing immediately and some immediate actions will be enabling actions in the first instance, but are important to allow for later carbon savings.

Gill commented that that we need to view actions collectively as one action alone may not have carbon savings but in combination with others may well be important. She also stressed the need for actions to be costed so that we can understand how things can be funded and when.

Andrew suggested that one of the advantages of tying actions to the Committee on Climate Change report is that it is costed. However Gill pointed out that each decarbonization issue is provided as a net-cost and as a proportion of GDP, not as the cost of delivery by, for example, councils.

Doug said that we won’t be able to cost every action at this stage as the detail of the actions will need to be developed by the project partners, which in turn will affect the cost. What we do know, is that decarbonizing Devon by 2050 will cost £658m every year and that most of that investment will need to come from the private sector.

Laura added that we need to consider the long-term cost, including the opportunity cost, for example through Land Use Change and soil erosion and the impacts on productivity.

Tim said that whilst he agreed that delivery actions are necessary, we mustn’t lose sight of the need to influence behavior to achieve the scale of change that is necessary, which is identified by the Committee on Climate Change.

ACTION: Emily to speak with Patrick about Theory of Change.

5. Preparing the draft Carbon Plan

A) Update on sharing draft actions with DCE partners for feedback

Emily and Doug updated the Task Force on the meetings which have occurred so far with the Devon Climate Emergency (DCE) Partners. Emily explained that there was a sense that the plan is more ambitious than anticipated, but that this is welcomed by the partners. Useful feedback on technical issues around implementation of the actions is being gathered.

ACTION: Emily to provide updates on feedback of partners to the Task Force.

B) Structuring Version 1 of the Devon Carbon Plan, proposed structure, including how to incorporate issues to be submitted to the citizens assembly

Ian Hutchcroft supported the general structure and raised a concern about the proposed split of the the Built Environment actions between energy reduction and generation, whereas he feels they need to be presented together.

It was suggested that the economy section be earlier in the document to frame the actions and the cross-cutting themes should be reiterated when summarizing the document.

Tim requested further highlighting of funding opportunities and economic benefits, including opportunities for workforce development. The plan should work as a prospectus for future funding.

Ian Bailey asked for the context setting to be kept snappy to grab people.

C) How to draft the plan – sub-group meetings and partner contributions

Hannah requested as much advance warning of meetings as possible and stakeholder involvement in drafting.

Nik highlighted the need for a consistent tone of voice in the document and that the secretariat should ensure this happens.

It was AGREED that the secretariat would draft initial text and then arrange for meetings with Taskforce Members, partners and stakeholders to refine the wording of the text.

D) How to decide on a final date to achieve a net-zero Devon

Doug introduced a paper outlining the evidence we have available to inform a decision on when it is viable to decarbonise Devon by.

ACTION: Task Force Members to consider for discussion at the next meeting, what date they think is viable for Devon to decarbonize by.

Patrick warned that assumptions that Covid related reductions in emissions are sustained may be unfounded, given the risk of rebound in emissions. Tim seconded this concern.

E) Funding status of actions          

Doug highlighted changes which had been made to the Action Matrix Spreadsheet to record the funding status of the action. It was AGREED that this was a sensible approach, but that we should highlight business opportunities – the ones that would be commercially viable without public support.

Ian Bailey suggested that whilst we should highlight opportunities, we need to be careful not to be too “all roses” in our communication.

6. Communications update

A) Plans for publicizing the interim report of the NZTF

Ellie introduced the communications plan for publicizing the interim report of the NZTF. Ellie highlighted the importance of clearly communicating what Carbon Plan 1 was and what it was not, including clarifying for the public the relationship between Carbon Plan 1 and the Citizens’ Assembly.

Patrick highlighted that when the citizens’ assembly occurs it will have to be quite specific about the topics being discussed, at which point the public will receive more detailed descriptions of the issues.

The Task Force discussed the title of the upcoming report.

ACTION: Ellie to review the title of the report to reflect feedback.

ACTION: Members of the Net Zero Task Force with capacity to create short videos to help promote the report and share with Ellie – Ellie to send further detail.

ACTION: Ellie to clarify the timeline and dates for promotion events so that the Task Force can ensure they are free.

ACTION: Contact stakeholders to warm up in advance of events.

ACTION: Emily to develop a more detailed timetable for the writing of the plan and incorporate Ellie’s communications timetable.

B) How could the new website support gathering public feedback?

Ellie raised that the new website aims to facilitate the public consultation on the actions. To be discussed further at the next meeting.

7. Citizen’s Assembly Update

The current approach remains to wait for further advice on public gatherings before proceeding with procurement and to take advice from Alice Mosely at Exeter University regarding online assemblies.



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