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Net Zero Task Force Meeting Minutes 14th September

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


Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
Iain Stewart
Gill Westcott
Harry Bonnell
Tim Jones
Ellie Rowlands
Emily Reed
Doug Eltham
Laura Cardenas
Lyndis Cole
Hannah Lawrie
Ian Bailey
Cornelia Guell
Ian Hutchcroft


Sue Goodfellow (Vice Chair)
Kerry Hayes
James Shorten
Nik Bowyer

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 August Task Force meeting:
ACTION: Emily to pull together the best practice that is happening across the county that is complementary to the actions in the carbon plan. This will be actioned by using the consultation questionnaire to allow people to submit case studies of best practice in Devon.

Tim Jones reported that GWR and Stagecoach are both looking at hydrogen. The rail operators have momentum on this and have a research project called Hydroflex, funded by DfT, in partnership with Birmingham University looking at hydrogen trains. Germany is the world leader. The bus operators already have chip-fat fuelled buses operating in Cornwall and hydrogen in London and the government is looking to phase out diesel buses in the next decade, so the operators in Devon are part of this.

ACTION: Emily will catch up with Lyndis about landscape considerations.

ACTION: Emily to raise the extent to which Dartmoor and Exmoor are analysing peat reserves at the next Climate Emergency Tactical Group

ACTION: Task Force members to let Ellie know if they are happy to record a video on Zoom

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

Gill asked whether the Team Devon COVID Report will be public, which Emily confirmed that it will be.

Ian Hutchcroft reported that a funding bid to extend the Energiesprong model of retrofits has been submitted to the Local Enterprise Partnership.

DCE partnership is going to submit a response to the Planning White Paper. Patrick asked if the Task Force could see that draft, which Doug confirmed will be possible later this week.

3. Preparation of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan

Sub-Section Text Drafting

We’re about two weeks behind schedule but we hope we can make that up over the coming months.

All of the sections other than Cross-Cutting Themes are now drafted and have been shared with relevant Task Force members.

Gill asked if some of the economy actions have not been included? Emily advised that they are all included but some are distributed within other themed sections where they sit more obviously.

Tim Jones asked whether various issues relating to Food, Land and Sea are still included, which Emily confirmed that they are.

Laura Cardenas reminded the group that everything being proposed needs to be evidenced as far as possible.

Critical Path diagrams

Emily reported that Andrew Rowson is ready to work on the diagrams as soon as the actions are confirmed as having been finalised. Emily shared the Food, Land and Sea diagram on screen.

Iain Stewart commented that the way the diagram is presented may not be particularly helpful to the public. Laura Cardenas suggested that the images could be improved by adding the prioritisation of each action to show which actions are most important.

Action: Emily to arrange for Andrew Rowson to attend the next Task Force meeting to explain further.

Types of Actions

Ian Hutchcroft expressed concern that the Plan still needs to focus on the actions that will save carbon, rather than enabling actions. Patrick said that the enabling actions need to stay in the Plan because these will lead to structural change, which is so important. Doug said that in many cases we need considerably more understanding of exactly what needs to be done, or how something needs to be done, to resolve a particular issue; therefore the enabling actions show communities that we know something has to be done and that the DCE partners will work on establishing exactly what that is.

Lyndis reminded the group that the Task Force has previously agreed that enabling actions will be distinguished from the delivering actions within the critical path diagrams and that Andrew Rowson has already categorised them as such.

Emily advised that a section called ‘Priority Actions’ has been inserted in each Section to highlight the actions that are most important and impactful.

Doug encouraged the Task Force to read the draft section texts and comment specifically on what actions require changing, and how. Making fundamental amendments at this stage is not an option.

Length of the Section Texts

Lyndis said that we really do need to trim the sections down so that the messages are clearer. Navigation also needs to be clear so people know where they are in the commentary. Doug and Emily agreed with this.

Ian Bailey said that whilst he supports making the Plan as concise as possible, the introduction needs to communicate to people why Devon is special, what it could like (positively) in the future, why climate change is important for Devon and why they should engage more fully with the Plan. So, we need a balance between being concise and being effective. Lyndis agreed with this.

Patrick said that the Executive Summary will be a key place to draw people in and encourage them to read the rest of the document, including any visuals. But we do need to remember that as it will predominantly be an online document, people won’t have necessarily read the whole document – they will have dived into the section that interests them, so a bit of repetition between sections will be required. Patrick asked for the Task Force to have enough time to comment on the text of the Executive Summary.

Upcoming timeline towards the consultation

Cross cutting theme sub-section text will be available for comment by the end of this week.

Action: Patrick asked for Task Force members to try to take a look at their relevant sub-section this week to help with the timetable.

Doug advised that the draft of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan that needs to be prepared for October 5th for sharing with partners only needs to be rough, to give partners an opportunity to identify red flags that they would not want to see described in the consultation draft. The polished version needs to be prepared during November at ready to be signed off by the DCERG on the 23rd November.

Print versions for the consultation

The Interim Devon Carbon Plan will be firstly a digital document. A print version will be available for people who can’t view it online. We are talking to the web developers about making it easily-printable from the website.

Nik commented by email that this is critical as there will be a section of the population that won’t want to engage with the website.  Whilst this is likely to be small, we should still seek to engage them.  There will be a question as to how they can obtain/how and where Devon will distribute print copies (and if there is a fee?).

Communications update

Website update

Ellie shared progress with the new website.

Action: Ellie will circulate a link to the website.

Iain reminded the Task Force that Devon does have large urban areas too, so the imagery of Devon shouldn’t be too focussed on rural ideologies.

Public consultation for the Interim Plan

Ellie shared progress with preparing consultation elements for the Interim Plan, such as videos and webinars.

  • Doodle polls have been arranged to sort out dates for webinars in the early stages of the consultation. Once dates are set, Ellie will look at the content of each webinar.
  • Patrick has made the first video from Task Force members, and hopefully more Task Force members will make them.

Ellie showed the Task Force elements of other consultations that could be used to engage the public in the consultation. One example that Ellie shared was a carbon-planning tool that engages the public in making decisions about how to set a carbon budget. Patrick noted that the data supporting these sorts of tools needs to be robust and we probably don’t have the data available to support that, but it could be helpful to show people how hard achieving net-zero is going to be.

Action: The Secretariat will prepare draft consultation questions and share with the Task Force.

5. Citizens’ Assembly

UK Assembly Report

Patrick provided a summary of the UK Assembly Report, which is available at

Patrick encouraged all Task Force members to engage with the section of the report of most interest to them.

Scottish Assembly

Iain Stewart advised that the Scottish Assembly has a climate assembly under development which he is involved with as the Communications Lead. Iain provided insights about how it will operate. It will be entirely online. A key difference between the national and UK assemblies is that the Scottish assembly is making the issue of social justice more prominent in the questions it is asking its members.

Conny suggested that the language used by the Interim Devon Carbon Plan could go some way to helping with the social justice issues. It could encourage people to get involved with the actions that are applicable to their situation, without feeling pressured to take action on issues that will negatively affect their situation.

Devon Assembly

Research and advice is being commissioned on how the online assembly in Devon should operate.

Having learned from Iain that the Scottish Assembly is going online, we need to understand any research they’ve done. Doug will incorporate this requirement into the research brief.

Action: Iain will share contacts at the Scottish Assembly with Doug

Gill advised that this research will need to consider how hard to reach communities are able to take part in the assembly.

6. AOB

Gill noted that we need to think about how we involve non-DCE partners in delivering the Plan. Doug suggested that we could use the consultation to ask individuals, businesses and communities which issues and actions in the Plan they are already helping resolve, or plan to help resolve in their own sphere of influence. Emily confirmed that the secretariat will think about this in the draft consultation questions that will be prepared.

Research on how the language used to discuss climate change is received by different audiences was discussed, citing work by Climate Outreach and a paper they used by Whitmarsh and Corner 2017. Framings of action on climate change which use appeals of fairness have differing impact on different audiences.

Action: Patrick to share the paper by Whitmarsh and Corner 2017, Emily to check her understanding of the research to inform the work of Devon Climate Emergency.

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