Net Zero Task Force Meeting Minutes, 24th November

Attendees

Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
Harry Bonnell
Lyndis Cole
Sue Goodfellow
Nik Bowyer
Laura Cardenas
Cornelia Guell
Ian Bailey
Gill Westcott
Tim Jones

Apologies

Hannah Lawrie
Iain Stewart
Ian Hutchcroft
James Shorten
Olly Frankland
Emily Widdecombe

Secretariat

Emily Reed
Doug Eltham

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

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

2. Progress Report

Emily invited questions on the Progress Report.

Lyndis asked when the communications about living a low-carbon Christmas will be available because Task Force members could share these.

ACTION: Emily Widdecombe to share these with the Task Force.

Tim noted the Environment Bill has now got royal ascent. Tim asked whether the Task Force should look at this for its relevance to the Carbon Plan.

ACTION: Secretariat to review the Environment Bill and update the Task Force on implications for the Carbon Plan.

Tim further raised the implications of the new External Wall Fire Review requirements required by mortgage lenders which may have an effect on retrofit activity.

ACTION: Secretariat to share this concern with the Retrofit in Devon group developing retrofit opportunities.

Patrick noted the successful bid for funding to accelerate the work of the Climate Impacts Group.  

3. COP26 Reflections

Emily said that a post-COP Ipsos Mori poll has found that concerns about climate change are now at an all-time high – 85% are concerned.

Patrick noted that there were lots of vested interests. Locally, Radio Devon were raising awareness and hosted some debates that he and Ian Bailey participated in.

The important point is that parties will be reconvening next year to develop further action.

Nik said that the transport discussions were focussed on electrification without a broader conversation involving modal shift to active travel and public transport.

Ian said that new ground was broken in certain areas but that the climate crisis is still trying to be solved in the context of other problems/issues, rather than acknowledging the climate crisis is THE problem that is affecting the others. Ian has prepared an article about this.

Gill said there didn’t appear to be much notice given to the role of nature in responding to the climate emergency. Gill also suggested that the Devon Climate Emergency communications could look at raising awareness of the impacts of climate change globally. Methane conversations were focussed on industrial methane rather than acknowledging the contribution from agriculture and diet. Cornelia said she is working with the University of the South Pacific, based in Fiji. Colleagues there found it positive that coal is to be phased out and were optimistic for negotiations next year.

4. Response to the Climate Assembly

4.1 Process So Far

Emily advised that the officers of the Devon Climate Emergency partners have prepared a first draft of actions in response to the Assembly’s resolutions. This involved a process of identifying what the Interim Carbon Plan already says about the Assembly’s resolutions to understand if additional actions are required. The secretariat also reviewed the topic papers prepared by the Net-Zero Task Force.

These draft actions were signed off by the Response Group on the 22nd November for subsequent consultation with elected members and senior directors. They have until the 26th of January to do this.

ACTION: Emily Reed to ask Ian Hutchcroft for key points to consider about retrofit.

It was AGREED that the Task Force will receive the current draft of the actions and these will be discussed further at the Task Force’s December meeting.

ACTION: Emily Reed to circulate the current draft of the actions to the Task Force.

4.2 Finance Paper

The Task Force thanked Tim for part 1 of a paper outlining the financing issues for net-zero. Members were keen to understand further the extent to which public bodies in Devon intend to provide access to finance, particularly through low interest loans.

ACTION: Tim to send Doug details of funding opportunities for public bodies for Doug to follow up with Devon County Council’s Economy and Enterprise service.

Lyndis provided an anecdotal report that business-change consultancies are experiencing increased demand to help businesses develop a pathway to net-zero and are recruiting sustainability expertise to meet the demand.

Tim elaborated that investors are nervous about stranded assets – buildings that haven’t been retrofitted, manufacturing equipment that relies on fossil fuels etc. Making assets fit for future regulation and investment requirements is becoming a priority.

Patrick asked if an evaluation has been done to identify sectors in Devon that will be worst hit by the net-zero transition. Emily advised that the Interim Carbon Plan does hypothesise about the sectors that will need support and includes actions to help. Further work will be needed when designing what that help will look like.  

5. Implementing the Devon Carbon Plan

Doug described the proposed governance arrangements for the oversight of the implementation of the Carbon Plan. These were subject to public consultation in December 2020 and are found in Section 12.3 of the Interim Carbon Plan.

Doug said that half of respondents to the consultation did not feel they had the expertise to say whether the proposed structure would work. Of those that did comment, approximately 75% said it would work and 25% said it wouldn’t. The main reason for people saying it wouldn’t work is that it’s too bureaucratic, but others said it needed more tiers of governance.

The Response Group is now starting to put the structure in place: At its meeting on the 22nd November it agreed to invite the Local Nature Partnership to act as the Theme Board for the Food, Land and Sea section. No other arrangements are yet in place.

Gill asked who will decide who’s on the Theme Boards? Doug said that the detail has yet to be developed so the Task Force’s suggestions on this would be helpful. The process of the Devon Climate Emergency partners creating a long list and refining that down to a short list for each Thematic Hearing in the early stages of preparing the Devon Carbon Plan seemed to work.

Patrick recommended that the people on these groups should be as impartial as possible and particularly on the Climate Change Forum. Patrick further suggested for diversity to be a requirement.

Sue expressed concern about the silo nature of the structure. Doug said the Multi-Theme Board has been provided to help address that and in reality officers on each of the Theme Boards will be talking to each other. Sue suggested adding arrows to the diagram to reflect this and showing that the people of devon might be providing projects into the bottom of the process, as well as being served at the top.

ACTION: Secretariat to integrate Sue’s recommendations into future versions of the diagram.

Ian said that detail about the Climate Change Forum needs to be fleshed out and offered Leeds Climate Change Commission as a good example. Ian further suggested that the Multi-Theme Board may not be necessary if the Forum is working effectively.

Harry advised that ‘principles of working’ will be necessary to describe the relationships and communications between the various groups in the governance structure.

Gill asked how can community organisations can get involved. Emily said that an invitation for individuals and community organisations were invited to express an interest in being part of the governance structure within the consultation, so a list of volunteers exists. Doug added that we’ll need to explore any vested interests amongst those volunteers.

Lyndis Cole asked whether the Theme Boards can make decisions. Doug explained that they can’t – they just report progress and management recommendations up to the Response Group.

Tim Jones said that organisations responsible for delivering the actions need to be represented on the Theme Board.

Emily concluded the conversation by saying that the governance structure will continue to evolve and is unlikely to look like it does now, and the Task Force will be kept engaged.

6. Next Iteration of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan

Emily reported that the Built Environment and the Food, Land and Sea sections being worked on now but this work remains behind schedule as a post-consultation version of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan was due to be published in October.

Doug explained that the Response Group has agreed not to publish a post-consultation version and instead publish a Final Carbon Plan on its current timetable (August 2022), which will incorporate the consultation changes and the Assembly’s recommendations.

Nik supported this decision by the Response Group and said he will take a look at the transport section.

ACTION: Nik to provide comment on the redrafted Transport section.

Lyndis asked for clarification that the amendments are incorporating plain English requirements. Emily said they are.

Emily clarified that the consultation in March 2022 will only be on the actions responding to the Assembly’s resolutions, not the whole Carbon Plan.

7. Net Zero Visions for the Devon Climate Emergency

Emily reported that a funding bid has been successful to help communities develop net-zero visions for their communities, led by the University of Plymouth.

ACTION: Emily to email further details.

8. Communications Update

Emily highlighted the success of the COP26 funding which enabled the production of a set of videos showcasing what is going on in Devon, as well as a top-tips video. Thanks to Sue and Jodie Giles for participating in these.

New web pages focused on adaptation activity will be launched soon.

Tim suggested offering a business kite mark scheme. Emily said we’d need to be careful about capacity to run such a scheme but very happy to learn more about how this could work.

ACTION: Emily and Tim to meet to discuss how a business kitemark scheme could operate.

9. Land Use Framework

Lyndis reported that all of the consultants have now been appointed.