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Net-Zero Task Force minutes 31st October 2019

Devon Climate Emergency Net-Zero Task Force minutes 31st 2019.
Download a PDF copy of the minutes here.


Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
Ian Bailey
Kerry Hayes
Laura Cardenas
Gill Westcott
Ian Hutchcroft
Harry Bonnell
Iain Stewart
Nik Bowyer
James Shorten
Cornelia Guell
Doug Eltham (Devon County Council, Interim Project Manager)
Kirstie Pritchard (Devon County Council, Natural Environment Officer)
Mike Bomford (Devon County Council, Media and Public Relations Manager)


Sue Goodfellow (Vice-Chair)
Hannah Lawrie
Tim Jones

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

Progress on Phase 1: Evidence Gathering

a) General Update

The public call for evidence via the new Devon Climate Emergency website is live and will remain open until early 2020.

The thematic hearing dates and venues are confirmed, and witnesses have begun to be invited.

ACTION: Co-Chairs of each thematic hearing to continue to liaise with Kirstie Pritchard over witness invitation.

b) Reviewing and Summarising Evidence

In the first week, the call for evidence has received 74 submissions. Evidence submitted by 10th November will be reviewed and passed to co-chairs for consideration at the thematic hearings.

ACTION: Doug Eltham will log the evidence submissions, categorise them and identify emerging themes and then share with the co-chairs.

ACTION: Co-chairs to consider inviting witnesses to the hearings who have submitted evidence that would usefully aid the hearing discussion.

c) Operation of the Hearings

The Task Force discussed how the questioning and conversation with witnesses will operate in practice. The hearings are each scheduled for 3 hours which will need to be used wisely. Ian Hutchcroft noted that the discussions at the hearings need to be focussed on what transformational changes will be necessary for decarbonisation, and how those changes could be implemented.

An outline structure for questioning agreed at the previous meeting is provided at Appendix 1 of these minutes.

ACTION: Co-chairs to consider the questions to ask at their specific hearing and identify theme-specific issues they may wish to explore. This could include contacting key witnesses ahead of the hearing to prime them to consider answers to specific questions.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to look at whether other climate emergency processes are using hearings and how they are approaching the questioning.

d) Integration of Hearings into the Citizens’ Assembly and Draft Report

The Task Force noted that policy proposals emerging from the call for evidence and the hearings will need to be appraised for their effectiveness at reducing carbon emissions as well as their indicative cost before subsequent presentation to the citizens’ assembly and consideration for inclusion in the draft report.

One potential source of this information is the expert witnesses at the hearings and people who have made submissions through the online call for evidence. Both of these groups could be contacted at any point during the plan preparation process for clarifications.

The Task Force also has a budget available for subsequent research that could be used to quantify the proposals emerging from the evidence gathering process.

Furthermore, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has prepared a costed and quantified scenario for achieving net-zero emissions in the UK by 2050. As part of the evidence gathering process, the Task Force AGREED to ask the Centre for Energy and Environment at the University of Exeter to model emissions in Devon assuming the CCC policy scenario is implemented in full.

ACTION: Doug Eltham to commission the Centre for Energy and Environment to review future emissions in Devon under the CCC policy scenario.

e) Cross-Cutting Themes

It was AGREED that cross-cutting themes, such as behaviour change, spatial planning, consumption and finance/investment must be considered within each of the themed hearings.

ACTION: Co-chairs of thematic hearings to be mindful of cross-cutting themes in their questioning of witnesses.

It was further AGREED to hold a hearing to focus on the cross-cutting themes to capture issues that may have not been identified within the themed hearings. This will be on the morning of the 11th December 2019 at the University of Plymouth.

ACTION: Kirstie Pritchard to assist the Task Force members with identifying the witnesses who should be invited to a hearing looking at behaviour change, spatial planning, institutional procurement, employment/industrial strategy, consumption and finance/investment.

f) Synthesis of the Hearings

The Task Force AGREED that a pre-Christmas synthesis of the key findings from the hearings should be undertaken between the co-chairs of the hearings and any other Task Force members that wish to attend. This will occur on the afternoon of the 11th December 2019 at the University of Plymouth.

Net-Zero Task Force Risk Register

The Risk Register was reviewed.

The Task Force noted that the pre-work necessary to ensure the citizens’ assembly works effectively will mean that the schedule may need to be updated as the February time frame is tight.

In addition, the Task Force discussed the risk that infrastructure investment decisions in Devon are currently being made using existing policy and guidance. These investments, for example in housing, transport and energy, could lock Devon in to emitting carbon well beyond 2030.  

ACTION: Patrick Devine-Wright, James Shorten and Ian Hutchcroft to determine how to raise this risk with the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group at its next meeting on the 12th November 2019.

Terms of Reference

The Task Force considered slight amendments to its Terms of Reference as requested at its first meeting. These were AGREED and will be considered by the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG).

ACTION: Doug Eltham to arrange for the revised Terms of Reference to be considered by the DCERG.


Mike Bomford advised that the new website is live and is being updated daily. Three social media accounts are active – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Instagram will be opened shortly. These accounts are being monitored by the Devon County Council media team.

The DCERG endorsed a proposal to recruit a full-time communications resource for the project at its October meeting, which is currently being implemented.

All district authorities, parish and town councils and schools have been notified of the call for evidence process.

Next Meetings

The next meetings are scheduled for:

  • 18th November, 14:00 – 16:00 in Exeter
  • 11th December, afternoon in Plymouth

ACTION: Doug Eltham to circulate dates for meetings from January through to June.

Actions Carried Forward from Previous Meeting

ACTION: Patrick Devine-Wright will contact the University of Leeds regarding the methodology most appropriate to apportion the UK’s consumption emissions data to Devon.

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