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Net Zero Task Force Minutes 17th April 2020

Net Zero Task Force Draft Minutes 17th April 2020. Download a PDF version of the minutes here.

Expected attendees:

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


Ian Bailey
Cornelia Guell
Iain Stewart

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 February Task Force:

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 requested further evidence be considered from a professional practice forum, such as a developer forum, to get their input.

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.

New actions arising:

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.

Gill commented that it was an important part of our net-zero vision what occurs with the existing gas grid to decarbonise it and in relation to hydrogen.

ACTION: Tim to speak with Emily about professional forums of property developers.

2. Presentation from Peter Kydd on infrastructure engineering and net zero

Peter Kydd, Chair of the South West Infrastructure Partnership (SWIP) gave an overview of the work being done by the partnership on the decarbonisation of infrastructure. Peter highlighted that SWIP will be publishing a report on its findings and the Institute of Civil Engineers will also be publishing its latest State of the Nation report in the summer.

Key findings about people’s opinions on the decarbonisation of infrastructure so far:

  • Business as usual is not an option, they wanted decarbonisation by 2050
  • Concerns over costs
  • Decarbonisation of electricity key
  • Debates over the best approach to delivering EV charging – at home or on route

SWIP is part of the Institute of Civil Engineers, which provides a channel to feed into government thought

What can government do to help the South West? The government’s green book needs revision so that only infrastructure which contributes to meeting net-zero goals gets progressed.

Tim asked if there were other funding opportunities from the government which we ought to be looking out for?

Peter raised uncertainty over the future economic situation and funding, but spoke of need to break with business as usual & to lock in benefits and opportunities.

Nik seconded the need to lock in the benefits of the current response to covid, such as reduced traffic and spoke of the opportunity for local authorities in Devon to do so, citing global examples such as Bogota in having done so. We should look at these case studies and learn from them to implement low cost temporary measures to test. Peter agreed we can’t wait for National Government and need to take a local lead.

Nik also supported the call to revise the green book and TAG to prioritise carbon intensity over for example reduced travel time above all else and said that Devon should be lobbying for this.

ACTION: Emily and Peter to keep in touch so that the Task Force can keep abreast of relevant developments and reports.

Sue asked if there is a piece of work to assess changes in Devon resulting from coronavirus that we might want to lock in? For examples people valuing green space more or supporting local shops more and reduced traffic.

ACTION: Doug will be raising with DCERG at its meeting on the 21st April how the south west should be influencing the economic recovery regionally and nationally to ensure low-carbon is at its heart.

ACTION: Doug can share some rough calculations based on real-time highways data regarding the carbon savings from Covid-19.

ACTION: Kerry and Ian to share data they have on impacts of Covid-19 on electricity usage to add to Doug’s calculations.

3. Report back from the systems thinking meeting (Emily/ Patrick)

3.1 Plan to hold a virtual workshop for the Task Force on systems thinking

Emily reported back on the sub-group meeting which was held to discuss how to utilise systems thinking more in integrating the actions being developed.

Patrick commented that we need to get away from the binary of “easy” and “hard” options.

Harry proposed 3 x 3-hour workshop sessions.

Patrick proposed 2 x 3-hour sessions as more manageable.

ACTION: It was decided to hold a virtual workshop for the Task Force to help identify the interrelations between suggested actions, including feedback loops and avoiding lock in, where some actions then preclude or make others harder. This should be no longer than three hours a session and 2 sessions a week apart were settled on.

3.2 Update on using a geographic typology to structure the presentation of the Devon Carbon Plan (James)

James raised the need to understand what the Devon system is by characterizing it, including geographically.

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

ACTION: Lyndis and James to consider what needs doing to characterize Devon geographically from a systems perspective.

Laura reemphasized the need to look at the impact of actions.

ACTION: Start to gather data on the potential impact of actions.

Patrick summarized the shift in perspective as asking, how does doing things in different time sequences and in different spatial configurations impact on achieving a net-zero Devon?

ACTION: Theme chairs to identify the 3 most impactful actions.

ACTION: Systems thinking workshop to look at the most impactful actions and explore their interrelation and to be held before the next Task Force meeting ideally.

ACTION: Emily to send out a Doodle to identify people’s availability for a workshop and to confirm the budget available.

ACTION: Emily and Task Force members to find examples of systems thinking being applied to going net-zero.

James and Patrick raised re-localisation as an ongoing theme.

4. Draft timetable for drawing up the Devon Carbon Plan and implications for Task Force Members

   Doug introduced the gant-chart of the timeline for producing the Devon Carbon Plan.

Ian felt it to be a realistic timeline.

Patrick felt it was helpful to have a deadline and that we need now to start looking at the structure of the document.

ACTION: Start outlining the structure of the Devon Carbon Plan – word length, sections etc. Will need to be decided by May/June.

Laura raised the risk that external providers of say research could throw the delivery timetable out.

ACTION: Emily to resend the Gant chart out.

There was a discussion as to the role of the first draft of the Devon Carbon Plan and how best to position it as something to inform the assembly and then to be amended, rather than something for the citizens’ assembly to rubber stamp. It was posed that it would be an interim report.

Laura suggested that we need to characterise the nature of the controversy and to more towards assigning metrics to actions so that they are quantified in terms of carbon savings, as this will shape people’s perception of them, i.e. what is socially acceptable for what amount of carbon saving?

ACTION: Draft an interim report of the Net-Zero Task Force, which provides enough detail so that the citizens assembly can really get a feel for what is being proposed, but ensure it is clear that it is a consultation document. Set out which issues we perceive as contentious and which we believe to be less contentious, so that we can then get feedback.

5. Task Force Theme leads report back on progress made on identifying actions, hard choices, levers and further research to commission (3 minutes each)

Please see Action Matrix spreadsheet for latest drafted actions by task force.

5.1 Food, Land and Sea (Sue, Gill and Laura)

Gill summarised the actions which they have been working on and the hard choices identified.

Ian commented that we need to move beyond high level wishes to more specific actions.

Doug raised the need for more information to inform the actions, such as the impact on landscapes of changing diets or increased woodland.

ACTION: Research on further information required to be commissioned after the systems workshops have taken place.

James emphasised the need to highlight the positives of actions and for us to explain how we will manage the negatives of any actions.

Patrick re-emphasised the need to look at the actions systemically.

Sue reminded the Task Force to stay focused on carbon savings.

5.2 Mobility (Nik and Kerry)

Nik updated the Task Force on an encouraging meeting he had with Jamie Hulland, Transportation Strategy & Road Safety Manager from Devon County Council. Jamie was largely supportive of the drafted actions but raised some concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on the appetite for some measures.

Workplace parking levy was identified as a hard choice.

5.3 The Built Environment (Tim, James and Ian)

         Ian relayed the progress made on the Built Environment draft actions so far.

ACTION: Review global best practice to see how planning is best responding to the net-zero challenge.

Gill questioned if utilising existing buildings differently was being considered, for example repurposing commercial buildings and better using existing residential to meet residential needs.

ACTION: Gill and Ian to arrange a brief conversation to discuss further.

5.4 Energy and Waste (Kerry and Hannah)

Kerry gave an overview of the actions which they had drafted so far. Hannah highlighted a constructive conversation had with South West Water to better understand their emissions profile and current actions in process to reduce emissions.

ACTION: Hannah and Emily to review drafted actions in light of SW Water conversation.

ACTION: Refine drafted actions to be more action orientated.

5.5 Cross Cutting Themes (Harry, Nik, Hannah and James)

Harry updated the Task Force on the meetings which had occurred to draft the actions for Cross Cutting Themes and that these would be further developed through the systems thinking workshops.

6. Discussion on holding online outreach events (Patrick)

Patrick suggested that these be arranged for July to support the publication of an interim report from the Task Force.

ACTION: Revisit the organization of the July events at subsequent meetings.

7. Using the climate emergency as a material planning consideration. (Doug)

Doug is due to speak with Cornwall County Council about a consultation they are doing on their planning policy. Doug highlighted that the consultation would be helpful in generating learnings about the unintended consequences which might arise from moves to make housing net-zero carbon and how to address these.

ACTION: Patrick requested Doug report back on the unintended consequences which have been identified as of concern.

Patrick and James raised that unintended consequences were not sufficient reason to forgo net-zero policies, however they would need to be resolved in other ways.

8. Communications update (Ellie)

Ellie gave an update on activity to communicate the work of the Devon Climate Emergency process, including:

  • The increase in followers which has occurred across channels, e.g. Facebook etc.
  • The creation of a mailing list and the sending of our first newsletter
  • Initiation of commissioning a new website to meet evolving needs
  • The addition to the website of resources to support organisations and individuals to reduce their emission

ACTION: Task Force Members to let Ellie know about positive news stories for the newsletter

9. Relevant Updates

Emily highlighted ongoing communications with David Sergeant, Plymouth University, about funding to develop local utopian visions of net-zero Devon.

10. AOB

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