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Tactical Group Meeting Minutes, 25th January 2023


Emily Reed, Devon Climate Emergency

Adam Williams, South Hams and West Devon Councils

Alice Gent, Exeter City Council

Catherine Causley, East Devon District Council

Charlotte Brown, Devon Climate Emergency

Donna Sibley, Torridge and North Devon District Councils

Freya Branley, Exeter City Council

John Amosford, Public Health Devon

David Rose, South West Water

Louise Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police

Andy Seaman, University of Exeter

Jacqui Warren , Torbay Council

William Elliott, Teignbridge District Council

1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were AGREED to be a true record of the discussion.

Actions carried over:

ACTION: Doug to catchup with David Rose about green bonds as an option to consider when financing net-zero.

ACTION: Doug to speak to Peter Lefort and Paul Hardman about any guidance Exeter and Plymouth universities could provide the partnership about attracting finance for net-zero.  

ACTION: Doug to speak to Devon County Council’s Economy and Enterprise team about attracting finance for net-zero.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1 Project Communications

Charlotte provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes. No further questions asked.

Jacqui updated that they’ve extended their consultation to get a better response.

2.2 Update on the Devon Carbon Plan

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

Emily listed organisations which have already endorsed the Devon Carbon Plan or are in the process of doing so.

Jacqui asked whether any of the wider partnership, including non-governmental organisations, have endorsed the Plan yet. Emily said that this has not happened yet but hopes that more will in the future. Jacqui agreed and said that other partners will need to tie in the Devon Carbon Plan with their own existing Plans.

ACTION: All to keep the Secretariat informed about any organisations endorsing the Carbon Plan.

2.3 Update on the DCIoS Adaptation Plan

Emily provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

ACTION: Emily to circulate the timeline for the development of the Adaptation Plan.

3. Future Partnership Governance

Emily shared slides detailing progress on governance arrangements for the partnership, then opened the item for questions.

The updated structure looks like this:

A diagram of the updated Governance structure

Jacqui asked how the groups will encourage local authorities and other organisations to complete the actions set out in the Devon Carbon Plan. Emily replied that, although encouragement will be needed, it is expected that the proposed oversight groups will have the right representation to unblock any barriers to action. Regular reporting of progress will make the Response Group aware of any problems so they can come up with ways to help.

John expressed that the sooner progress begins, the better, and suggested that the partnership moves forward with the base structure to be reviewed later.

Will asked whether someone will be tasked with a high-level audit to assess progress on actions across Devon. Emily responded that progress reports for each of the Plan’s themes will be provided from the different oversight groups, and a full report will be shared at an annual Devon Climate Change Forum alongside guidance from annual carbon reduction figures.

Jacqui asked if the Response Group will have representation from each oversight group on it, in order to allow for an informal sharing of progress on a monthly basis so problems can be dealt with faster. Emily agreed that good representation on the Response Group is important, and that oversight groups will provide a paragraph update for each priority action every quarter. Jacqui reported that other similar groups have allocated five minutes to the start of meetings to discuss progress and current issues, and a structure like this could give the Response Group a good idea of what is happening.

Emily noted that the LEP’s Energy Futures Programme Board, which had been considered as a potential oversight group for the Energy Supply priority actions, is too strategic and a new group will be set up focussing on energy planning in the coming months.

Jason said that it would be worth having an editable, web version of the governance structure to allow it to adapt when Lead and Oversight bodies change.

ACTION: Secretariat to publish an update to the governance structure on the website and in the relevant chapter of the Devon Carbon Plan.

4. IUK funds

Emily reported that Devon County Council was not successful in its Innovate UK funding bid. She also reported that Plymouth City Council and Exeter City Council were successful and that it would be good to hear more about their plans.

Emily asked who in the group is considering entering the Net Zero Living: Fast Followers funding competition. Adam, Donna and Jacqui expressed interest. Emily requested that anyone intending to apply tell her about their plans to avoid multiple competition entries covering the same topic.

ACTION: Anyone entering the Fast Followers funding competition to talk to Emily about their plans.

5. Future Climate Change Communications

The group discussed how best to communicate with individuals who do not believe in climate change.

Emily reported that Harry spoke to the Wildlife Trust’s national team, who advised that the group should refute climate deniers on the same communication channels they use, ensure counter messages are widely communicated, and be aware of when it is advantageous to hand over the conversation to someone else more suited to respond. Different audiences may also respond better to alternative messaging such as preserving the countryside, or the provision of green jobs, as opposed to discussing climate change directly.

Jacqui said that the climate deniers’ main concern is freedom and that they see the climate agenda as restrictive, such as in the case of the miscommunicated ‘20-minute neighbourhood’ issue in Oxford.

Jason suggested that it is important to differentiate scepticism of climate science with scepticism of the suggested solutions. Focusing on what each person is interested in may be most effective.

Adam said that we need to explore how to visualise (for example, via video or virtual reality) what the individual will gain from these actions rather than focusing exclusively on facts and data. Emily replied that the Net Zero Visions project does this well.

John added that his angle is to provide people with more choice to undertake climate-friendly actions. One example of this is rebalancing the transport system to make walking and cycling safer and more feasible options.

Catherine reported that she has been focusing more on messaging around outcomes rather than mitigation. She said that language around mitigation tends to be more restrictive and pessimistic, and asks people to make individual changes while bigger organisations continue as they are, creating an us-versus-them mindset. However, talking about installing solar panels and seeing a drop in energy bills is a positive conversation. She added that targeting what people care about (such as litter-free parks, low energy bills, safe cycle lanes) without relating it to the climate emergency may be effective.

Donna suggested that a factsheet be produced for people who are not well educated in climate science. Emily replied that a page could be created for the Devon Climate Emergency website with a list of frequently asked questions about climate science, to be updated regularly. Several members agreed this was a good idea. John said that it may instead prompt more arguments from climate deniers who do not accept the science. Jacqui agreed that it should not be an extensive page and could just have a basic statement with evidence. Catherine suggested that the page could also have information from the BBC about citizen science as well as testimonials from the Devon Climate Assembly. Donna and Jacqui agreed to work on this together.

ACTION: Secretariat to work with Donna and Jacqui to provide a climate science page on the DCE website.

6. Planning future meetings

Emily informed the group that this would be a good time for anyone to change their Tactical Group and/or Response Group membership or bring in interested colleagues. We’re aware that some people attend both groups which may not be a good use of their time.

We’re keen to make the Tactical Group and Response Group different. In the interest of the Tactical Group’s primary purpose being sharing knowledge, Emily asked members to suggest monthly topics for the group to discuss and ideas for site visits. Jason added that monthly talks would be a good opportunity to collaborate on important issues.

ACTION: All to let Emily know if they wish to change their membership on the Tactical Group and Response Group.

ACTION: All to feed back to Emily with ideas for site visits and monthly talks.

7. AOB and Partner Updates   

Adam is putting together a business case to bring someone else into his solo team and asked for others’ experiences in doing the same thing.

ACTION: Any partners with a business case for additional resource to share with Adam.

Catherine shared upcoming campaigns including ‘Biodiversity Starts on Your Doorstep’ in mid-March, No Mow May, East Devon Together in June and other content around nature recovery.

Donna highlighted a £15.6 million funding boost to the construction of the Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre.

Louise shared that a job opening is available for a new energy manager at Devon and Cornwall Police.

Alice announced that a new climate emergency section has been launched on the Exeter City Council website.

Will said that the Teignbridge Local Plan consultation has begun, he is developing a district-level carbon action plan, and that the Shared Prosperity Fund project providing business support has commenced.

Appendix 1: Project Progress Report

Period: December to January 2023

Status Indicator Key:  

🔴 [RED] = Significant issue that requires Response Group intervention;  

🟠 [AMBER] = Minor issue that will initially be managed by the secretariat, but the Response Group should be aware;  

🟢 [GREEN] = No issue.  

1. Partnership Update

1.1 General Project Communications 🟢 [GREEN]

1.1.1 Following

Growth rate has taken a slight dip due to inactivity over the Christmas holiday period, but still positive. We have now surpassed 9500 total followers.

A line graph showing the Devon Climate Emergency online communications following. All lines are increasing
Figure 1.1. DCE Social Media Following
1.1.2 Campaigns

Business Engagement 🟠 [AMBER]

Continues to be delayed due to other priorities – Secretariat is looking to do more work around business engagement. Initially, this will consist of putting together a slide pack with actions for organisations sourced from the Devon Carbon Plan Quick Read slides, which can be distributed via the South West Business Council. These will encourage businesses to endorse the Devon Climate Declaration. We will also be reviewing and updating the resources for business available on the DCE website and asking businesses to put forward case studies that we can showcase as part of a longer campaign.

Challenge-setters for the University of Exeter 🟢 [GREEN]

  • DCE acted as one of several challenge-setters for the University of Exeter’s second year Thinktank module. Two groups of students researched the question, “What is required to enable and encourage young people, including university students, to adopt more net-zero habits and lifestyles?” on behalf of DCE.
  • We attended the students’ final presentations, detailing the results of their research, on 12th December. Their research involved interviews with Exeter students and professors, covering topics including consumption, transport, media and education.
  • Findings (sample size unknown):
    • 78% of students had not heard of the DCE
    • 55% follow social media accounts linked to climate change
    • 73% believe the climate emergency can be overcome
    • 94% willing to change behaviour to reduce carbon emissions
    • 94% of students travel to campus from their term-time address using sustainable travel (Uni of Exeter report)
    • 41% don’t feel informed about what actions to adopt
    • Social media and friends are the biggest influencers of environmental behaviour
  • The students provided us with practical suggestions for how we can engage more young people with the DCE project. We will integrate their findings into DCE action and communications this year. Suggestions that we can consider include:
    • More physical presence at student events
    • Reusable coffee cups with branding offered as prizes to encourage more social media following
    • More faces of people delivering projects, and give less information on social media. Use TikTok.
    • Website needs clarifying
    • Focus on fast fashion, food sustainability and food waste
    • Collaborate with universities to integrate climate into all degrees, and launch ‘student select committees’ as a forum for engagement

Devon-Wide Community Engagement 🟠 [AMBER]

The Community Engagement Sub-Group nominated Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council to bring a proposal back to them to enhance the Community Action Group activity across Devon. This has yet to happen due to other priorities. However, a funding bid to Innovate UK was submitted by Devon County Council on 30/11/22 which includes resources to accelerate the design and scoping work for this service. We will be notified in January 2023 on the outcome.

1.2 Partners’ Notable Activity

Activity is recorded centrally on the Taking Action pages of the Devon Climate Emergency website.

1.3 Governance

At its meeting on the 30th October, the Response Group agreed to review the future governance arrangements for the partnership to see if an alternative could be developed that would be less resource intensive and enable a greater focus on delivery.

The Secretariat has reviewed governance models used elsewhere, as recommended by the Local Government Association, ADEPT and political science and geography researchers at the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter. The Tactical Group has also fed-in to the scoping through a workshop.

A proposal was presented to the Response Group at its meeting on 10th January 2023. This was agreed and will be implemented. It will be kept under review and amended as necessary.

2. Devon Carbon Plan Update 🟢 [GREEN] 

Partners, as well as organisations beyond the partnership, are now encouraged to endorse the Plan through their governance arrangements. Organisations that have endorsed so far are:

  • Plymouth City Council
  • Mid Devon District Council
  • East Devon District Council
  • Devon County Council
  • Dartmoor National Park Authority
  • Devon Association of Local Councils
  • Devon Wildlife Trust
  • Torridge District Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • South Hams District Council
  • North Devon District Council
  • Teignbridge District Council

West Devon District Council has the Plan progressing through decision making processes.

A number of partners submitted funding bids to the Innovate UK Net-Zero Pioneer Places fund in December 2022. Devon County Council submitted a bid on the Devon Carbon Plan cross-cutting theme of ‘Knowledge Sharing, Skills and Learning’, bringing together the projects on this theme that need developing in partnership, such as the Farming Advice Service, Energy Advice Service, SME Net-Zero Advice, Net-Zero Skills Training. West Devon Borough Council and Exeter City Futures also prepared bids. The outcome of these will be known in January 2023.

3. Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Plan 🟢 [GREEN] 

RSK has completed the climate risk register.

Further workshops occurred in November to capture the potential adaptation options and actions against each risk. These are being finalised in January 2023, when priority actions for regional collaboration will also be decided.

The Adaptation Strategy is expected to be completed by the start of February 2023 for public consultation in early spring. The Group is discussing how that consultation would be handled in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly where area-level risk registers and action plans are being prepared simultaneously. The Group hopes to have a timetable for the consultation by the end of January.

4. Devolution Update

Government has advised that devolution is paused until at least January.

5. Summary Comments

  • Partners continue to implement the Devon Carbon Plan. 
  • The Adaptation Plan is being prepared.
  • New governance arrangements are being proposed to the Response Group on 10th January.
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