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Net-Zero Task Force minutes 23 September 2019

Devon Climate Emergency Net-Zero Task Force minutes 23 September 2019.
Download a PDF of the minutes here.


Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
Kerry Hayes
Laura Cardenas
Sue Goodfellow
Gill Westcott
Tim Jones
Hannah Lawrie
Ian Hutchcroft
Harry Bonnell (Delegate for Elaine Cook)
Paul Hardman (Delegate for Iain Stewart and Ian Bailey)
Doug Eltham (Devon County Council, Interim Project Manager)
Tony Norton (Guest – Head of the Centre for Energy and Environment, University of Exeter)
Karime Hassan (Guest, Chief Executive, Exeter City Council)
David Beasley (Guest, Devon County Council, Media and Public Relations Officer)


Elaine Cooke
Iain Stewart
Ian Bailey
Nik Bowyer
James Shorten
Cornelia Guell

Part 1: Establishing the task force

Welcome and election of vice-Chair

Karime Hassan, Chief Executive of Exeter City Council, welcomed the Task Force members as they convened.

The Task Force discussed its rules of engagement, being particularly conscious of the need for its minutes to be publicly available. It was AGREED that future agendas will identify sensitive items that will not be minuted, for example where confidential information is to be presented.

Sue Goodfellow was elected as the Vice-Chair of the Task Force.

Action: Doug Eltham to notify the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG) of Sue Goodfellow’s election.

Preparing a declaration of interests register

The Task Force AGREED for each member to complete a Declaration of Interests form and for these to be published on the project website.

Action: Each member to complete a form and return to Doug Eltham.

The Devon Climate Emergency project and its terms of reference

The Task Force members familiarised themselves with the project framework and the terms of reference of the governance bodies, including those of the Task Force itself. It was AGREED to propose minor modifications to the Terms of Reference to document more fully:

  • The basis on which task force members are invited by the DCERG
  • That businesses based outside of Devon but that have an interest in Devon, will need to be influenced

ACTION: Doug Eltham to draft amendments and circulate to the task force members for approval and subsequent recommendation to the DCERG.

The Task Force requested a shared, online file space for storing evidence and collaborating on documents. It was AGREED to try Devon County Council’s SharePoint system.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to establish a SharePoint site.

The Task Force noted that communicating its activity effectively will be important. A communications strategy, including the use of a new website, is planned and will be progressed by the new project manager who is expected to be in post by early November. The website has started to be designed by Devon County Council’s Digital Communications Team. Further resources are not available currently to speed this up, but Doug Eltham will meet with David Beasley and the Digital Communications Team to see what can be achieved in the interim period.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to meet with David Beasley and the Digital Communications Team.

Proposed work lan and resources

The indicative project timetable and financial resources currently provided by the DCERG was reviewed by the Task Force. Whilst the schedule of themed hearings and citizens’ assembly meetings is ambitious, the volunteer Task Force is acutely aware that this is an emergency and therefore it was AGREED it will do its utmost with the resources available to deliver against the existing project timetable.

Resources currently available from Devon County Council are:

  • £100k to fund the full-time project manager
  • £10k to support a new, multi-agency website
  • £10k to research the use of citizens’ assemblies – provided to the University of Exeter
  • £44k of pre-arranged research time with the Centre for Energy and Environment at the University of Exeter
  • £10k to stage the themed hearings
  • £100k to fund the citizens’ assembly
  • £5k to arrange the public consultation
  • £15k for project evaluation

In addition, officer time from the range of organisations represented on the tactical group (about 14 people currently, able to offer ad-hoc support, help run the hearings and citizens’ assembly sessions etc.)

The 25 organisations involved in the project are primed to offer further financial resource for focussed activity.

The indicative project schedule is shown below:

  • by end of Apr 2019: DCERG and Tactical Group Established
  • by end of May 2019: Climate Declaration Published
  • between Jun and Sept 2019: Climate Declarations signed by Organisations
  • by end of Jun 2019: DCERG Approves Plan-Making Process
  • by end of Sep 2019: Task Force appointed
  • between Jul and Sep 2019: Project Management appointed
  • between Sep and Nov 2019: Appraise evidence and design Thematic Hearings
  • between Nov and Dec 2019: Procure Citizen Assembly
  • between Nov and Dec 2019: Thematic Hearings – Developing Policy Options
  • between Jan and Feb 2020: Citizen Assemblies
  • between Feb and Apr 2020: Draft the Plan
  • between May and Jun 2020: DCERG organisations endorse the draft plan
  • between Jul and Aug 2020: consult on draft plan
  • by end of Sep 2020: Produce Final Plan
  • between Oct and Nov 2020: DCERG members adopt Final Plan

Part 2: Getting to Work

Setting a Baseline – Devon, Plymouth and Torbay’s Territorial Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The geography of the Devon Climate Emergency covers the areas administered by Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local authorities. A baseline of territorial greenhouse gas emissions is required for these areas, the district councils and the national parks.

There is a variety of GHGs. Carbon dioxide data is published annually at district council resolution by UK government. Methane and Nitrous Oxide emissions are available via the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory at 1km-grid resolution. F-gas emissions (largely used in refrigeration) are only available at a national resolution but can be apportioned locally. These data sets need to be combined to produce a comprehensive ‘carbon footprint’.

The carbon footprint for the area administered by Devon County Council, the district authorities and Dartmoor National Park was calculated in 2018 using the latest available data at the time by the Centre for Energy and Environment (CEE) at the University of Exeter. This built a carbon footprint for the year 2015.

Plymouth City Council has already commissioned the CEE to provide the latest carbon footprint and projections for the Plymouth area, which is currently underway.

Torbay Council has not prepared a recent carbon footprint for its area.

The Task Force AGREED to engage the CEE to provide up-to-date carbon footprints and projections for the areas administered by Devon County Council and Torbay Council using the same methodology as that being undertaken for the Plymouth City Council area.

ACTION: Doug Eltham will:

  • Commission the work from the CEE for the Devon County Council area
  • Discuss with Torbay Council how they can fund the analysis for the Torbay area
  • Discuss with the Exmoor National Park Authority whether it would like a carbon footprint for its area and the assumptions that will have to be made to estimate it.

Setting a Baseline – Devon, Plymouth and Torbay’s Consumption Greenhouse Gas Emissions

UK consumers are responsible for carbon emissions abroad. The Devon Climate Declaration expects its signatories to act to facilitate the reduction of Devon’s consumption emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

Experimental statistics have been published by the UK government about the UK’s national consumption emissions since 1997. The latest data available is 2016 and it is updated annually by the University of Leeds. The data is not available at the county or district council level.

The Task Force assumed that other geographies that are responding to the climate emergency are also working to understand consumption emissions and therefore there is likely to be an opportunity to collaborate with others on this and many other aspects of decarbonisation. Patrick Devine-Wright proposed a regular agenda item at future meetings for Task Force members to share information they’re aware of about initiatives happening elsewhere. This was AGREED.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to ensure future meeting agendas contain this item.

The Task Force AGREED to engage with the University of Leeds to understand more about how the emissions are calculated in order to consider how to allocate a proportion of these emissions to the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay area.

It was further AGREED that the consumption and territorial carbon footprints will be reported separately and that the Devon Carbon Plan will contain actions to address the reduction of both footprints.

ACTION: Patrick Devine-Wright will contact the University of Leeds.

2050 Roadmap from the Committee on Climate Change

Tony Norton presented an overview of the work of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change on how the UK could reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This provided context for the Task Force’s job of selecting decarbonisation themes to be explored at the set of hearings later this year.

Designing the Thematic Hearings

The Task Force will arrange a set of thematic hearings to gather evidence about the opportunities and barriers to decarbonising Devon. It was AGREED that the decarbonisation sectors identified by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change are a good starting point, but it may be prudent given the available resources to identify specific aspects that are most relevant to Devon. It was further AGREED that it will be important to consider the inter-connectedness of the different themes and the socio-economic and land-use system issues that drive the behaviours that result in emissions. Tim Jones noted that ‘skills and education’ should not be overlooked.

The Task Force AGREED to schedule an additional meeting on the 11th October for the purpose of completing the design of the hearings.

ACTION: Ahead of this meeting…

  • Doug Eltham will circulate to the Task Force:
    • The significant policy levers available currently at the local level to facilitate decarbonisation
    • An initial concept for how the hearings could operate to aid discussion
    • Cornwall Council’s Climate Action Plan
  • Task Force members are asked to think about:
    • Which themes should be identified?
    • How will the hearings operate?
    • Where should they be held?
    • How could the public get involved?
    • Which theme would each member be interested in facilitating alongside officers from the Tactical Group?
  • Patrick Devine-Wright will circulate his recommendations for how public engagement should operate around the hearings.

Research on deliberative decision making and the design of the Citizens Assembly

Patrick Devine-Wright advised that he and Alice Moseley are undertaking a rapid evidence review to inform the design of Devon’s Citizens’ Assembly. Part of this will involve a stakeholder workshop on the 14 November. The report will be prepared by the end of November.

Next Meetings

The next meetings are scheduled for:

  • 11th October 10 – 12
  • 31st October 10 – 12
  • 18th November 10 – 12
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