Net Zero Task Force Draft Minutes 14th May 2020. Download a PDF copy of the minutes here.
Patrick Devine-Wright (Chair)
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 April Task Force meeting:
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 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.
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.
ACTION: Emily to report back on the data sets available to aid characterizing Devon.
2. Questions and comments on the Net Zero Task Force Progress Report
Emily requested feedback on the effectiveness of this new document, proposed to accompany the agenda in future
Gill highlighted an additional case study which should be considered as part of the proposed further research on net-zero new builds.
Gill requested further information on conclusions which came out of discussions between Doug, Emily and Tony Greenham regarding South West Mutual. Doug will share a summary of the conversation.
Kerry and Hannah gave their support for the continued use of a Progress Report as an effective way to update the Task Force.
3. Plans for the upcoming workshop
3.1. Details of the virtual workshop for the Task Force on the 22nd May
Emily updated the Task Force on the discussions which she has had with potential facilitators since the last meeting, considering how best the Task Force might consider the inter-relations between emerging actions and the implications of these.
Emily requested feedback on the circulated proposal for how the workshop could be structured.
Patrick highlighted that it was important the Action Matrix spreadsheet, where the draft actions of the Devon Carbon Plan are being compiled, needs to be populated as far as possible prior to the workshop on the 22nd.
Lyndis raised the importance of considering the agility and speed with which actions can be implemented in tandem with their potential impact to reduce carbon emissions.
Patrick agreed with Lyndis and highlighted the importance of early choices of action, due to the danger of path lock-in which could aggravate or preclude the ability to take other important actions later.
Tim raised the need to look at unintended consequences, for example whether closing Exeter airport would simply push people to use Bristol airport, thereby increasing emissions rather than reducing them.
Nik seconded Tim’s concern and highlighted that conflicts between draft actions were already evident, for example rationalizing street lighting to reduce energy use might impact on the uptake of active travel.
Gill stressed the need for the Task Force to provide evidence to substantiate claims of inter-relations between actions or conflicts, to ensure that we make informed decisions. Patrick agreed on the importance of this and highlighted the addition which has been made to the Action Matrix spreadsheet, on his request, of a confidence indicator of low, medium or high, to capture the evidence base we feel we have on the potential carbon saving impact of an action. This borrows from the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) notation of confidence in a forecast.
Conny raised that her colleague specializes in applying systems thinking to complex systems and may be of use to the workshop.
ACTION: Conny to connect Emily with her colleague who works on the application of systems thinking in the business school.
ACTION: Task Force Members to: i) Identify from your sub-theme on the Action Matrix 3 high-impact, priority actions with the most potential to reduce carbon emissions in Devon, identifying actions at the most specific level deemed possible i.e. the “sub-how” rather than the broader “how” ; ii) For these three actions, populate the Action Matrix columns as far as possible before the 22nd.
Doug suggested that if the topic in question doesn’t have obvious individual big or impactful measures, we could identify ‘parcels’ of granular measures that taken collectively achieve the bigger outcome we’re after.
Laura added that we need to balance the choices between a top down approach which maybe very effective in the short term, with a bottom up approach which will be important in the longer term.
Nik raised that there will be numerous examples of actions where conflicts or interactions between actions only occur in specific localities – for example reducing street lighting on a highway is very distinct from reducing it in a suburb. Nik also raised a question about the level of detail at which the Task Force should identify priority actions.
Emily responded that the Task Force members should use their professional discretion to identify priority actions at an appropriate level of detail. Patrick supported this but urged for actions identified not to be too broad.
Harry requested that more time be given to looking at the interdependencies between actions in the workshop.
Jodie highlighted that more time can be spent on interdependencies if enough preparation in identifying the who, what, where etc. of the actions has been done prior to the workshop itself.
ACTION: Reduce time allocated to the initial consideration of actions in the workshop, to allow for more time considering their interactions.
Tim raised the importance of considering where budget for actions would come from in moving towards a strategic action plan. Tim gave the example of the potential importance of green bonds and the need to draw on experience from North Devon in developing these.
Patrick raised that an additional task and finish could be to assess the actions for finance opportunities and their economic dimension.
ACTION: Identify who can assess the actions for finance opportunities and their economic dimension.
ACTION: Where possible, Task Force members to consider the costs and funding opportunities for their 3 priority actions.
Gill raised the need to consider what the most impactful actions are and to cost them, even where funding streams have not yet been identified, and that we are expected to convey honestly what would be needed to reach net-zero as well as to furnish possibilities for immediate action with existing funding potential.
Gill voiced ongoing concern over carbon offsetting and the risk of double counting carbon reductions.
ACTION: Consider carbon offsetting in more detail at a future meeting and define if further research is needed.
Tim thinks monetizing ecosystem services is an important opportunity to fund actions and to liquidize intangible assets.
4. Preparing to share draft actions with DCE partners and the public
4.1. Timeline and initial thoughts on structuring version 1 of the Devon Carbon Plan
Emily and Patrick emphasised the need to begin to think about the structure of the Version 1. Devon Carbon Plan, so that we are on track to share with the Devon Climate Emergency partners and the public later in the year.
4.2. Update on using a geographic typology to structure the presentation of the Devon Carbon Plan (James)
James introduced the paper which he and Lyndis had drafted on establishing a base-line understanding of Devon’s physical and human geography as a foundation for the plan. They believe there is more work to do in gathering together the data necessary and would like to identify who could do this.
ACTION: i) Task Force members to read the paper before the 22nd, to allow the workshop to be informed by the paper on the NZTF Spatial Framework and ii) clarify the work brief after the workshop.
ACTION: Add to the Action Matrix the need for Supplementary Planning Guidance to be produced for Devon to further the goals of achieving Net-Zero Carbon.
Patrick added that we also need to conceptualize the flow of resources between places, for example people and money.
ACTION: Emily to share papers with Jodie.
4.3. Sharing draft actions with DCE partners prior to the public consultation
Ian Hutchcroft advised that it made more sense to wait until the spreadsheet was further populated, as it will be in preparation for the workshop.
It was AGREED that the secretariat would share the draft actions with the Tactical Group after the 22nd of May, to allow time for the Task Force to complete further refinement of the actions.
Patrick urged that the action spreadsheet was shared with the caveat that they are draft and are still likely to change.
Ian Bailey recommended that the framing of New Zealand Zero Carbon Act is a good example of how the Action Plan might be presented, given the effective way in which it navigates the political realities of gaining support for the plan.
ACTION: Ian Bailey to consider the key learnings around the framing of the carbon plans, which can be taken from the New Zealand Zero Carbon Bill and to feed these into the Task Force in the form of recommendations for the Devon Carbon Plan.
5. Covid-19 impact on Devon in relation to emissions and Covid-19 recovery
Doug introduced the paper which he had circulated on the impact of Covid-19 on Devon’s emissions and the opportunities to align the economic recovery from Covid-19 with setting the course for a net-zero carbon Devon. This is to be presented to the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group at its meeting on the 22nd May.
Doug has identified within the paper which of the strategic priorities for investment identified by the UK Committee on Climate Change align with those that could be implemented relatively quickly in Devon that appear in the emerging action list of the Devon Carbon Plan.
The task force agreed that the current situation highlights the level of change required in society to get to net-zero carbon, given that the current drop of emissions resulting from Covid-19 is forecast to be 8% across the year and that a drop not far off this will be needed year on year to achieve net-zero by 2050.
Ian Hutchcroft urged that we focus on big infrastructure changes as this is what is required.
Conny recognised the importance of big infrastructure but that it needed to be pursued in combination with behaviour change and that we should learn from previous mass behaviour change programmes such as the smoking ban.
6. Communications update
Ellie updated the Task Force that the request for quotes to build a new website for the Devon Climate Emergency Process had been sent out and that an updated tagline for the project has been agreed by public vote:
Creating a resilient net-zero carbon Devon – where people and nature thrive
Ellie also shared that there were vibrant conversations occurring online around “build back better”.
It was AGREED that more time would be given to discussing communicating the development of the Devon Carbon Plan in future meetings.
Ellie raised that the open conversations which Exeter City Futures had recently seemed effective forums to share their plans. However Gill responded that conversations have to be had in tandem with evidence of ongoing action to be well received.
Tim urged that we increase our public communications around the plan and raised concerns that sharing our Version 1 Carbon Plan with the public in August is in danger of not being soon enough.
Doug responded that DCERG are discussing how the climate emergency should influence the Covid recovery at its next meeting and so feeding back thoughts to the DCERG now is the best approach. The publication of the Version 1 Carbon Plan in August for consultation is already tight as it will need to be endorsed by each of the DCERG partners first.
Ian Bailey asked that we consider the danger of rebound in trends such as reduced travel.
7. David Sergeant’s funding bid
It was AGREED that Emily work with David Sergeant to develop a funding bid to support working with communities to develop local net-zero visions of their communities as this is in line with draft actions in the plan.
ACTION: Emily to work with David Sergeant to develop a funding bid.