Key information on the Oxford Citizens' Assembly


The Oxford Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change took place on two full weekends - September 28-29, 2019 and October 19-20, 2019 - at the Said Business School.


Assembly Members were asked to consider:

The UK Government has legislation to reach ‘net zero’ carbon by 2050.  Should Oxford be more proactive and seek to achieve ’net zero’ sooner than 2050 and what trade-offs are we prepared to make?


The Citizens' Assembly addressed three themes, divided into five areas: 

  • How do we use less energy?
    1. Buildings – how do we ensure our buildings are fit for the future?
    2. Transport – how do we develop a sustainable zero-carbon transport system?
  • How do we make more energy?
    1. How do we transform our energy system to ensure it comes from renewable sources?
  • How do we improve environmental quality on the journey to net zero?
    1. Waste – How do we reduce our waste to deliver net zero?
    2. Offsetting – How could Oxford offset the emissions it can’t reduce?

The issue of biodiversity was considered within each of these subject areas.


The Assembly heard from 27 expert speakers who set out the scale of the issue and addressed the range of options to reduce emissions across the four themes. Panels then brought together speakers with different views and perspectives on each subject area.

Weekend one 

During the first weekend, a series of speakers provided a scene-setting overview of the issue, what happens if we don’t act, and what it takes to get to net zero emissions. The remainder of the first weekend examined each theme and subject area in turn, including consideration of the associated key challenges and trade-offs.

Weekend two

The second weekend involved participants’ discussion and deliberation of each subject area and the introduction of specific questions around particular trade-offs. The questions spanned areas that the Council has direct control, where it can work in partnership with other statutory bodies, and where it can influence others.

View weekend schedules


In line with best practice, 50 Assembly Members were recruited through a stratified random process, creating a ‘mini-public’ broadly representative of the demographics of the city’s population. The size of the Assembly enables citizens with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to come together in detailed discussion on a common issue.

Residents were not able to apply to become an Assembly member, but as the Oxford’s postcode address file was used for selection, all local residents had the potential to be invited. The 2011 Census was used to draw up the target quota. 

To ensure we had a genuinely representative sample of Oxford’s population, a range of selection criteria were applied, including gender, age, ethnicity, disability and area of the city. Additional data on participants was also monitored, including socio-economic group, employment status, educational attainment and political viewpoint – but this was not used to select or deny participation.

In line with good practice, Assembly Members were each be paid a £300 honorarium, recognising the time they are giving up to take part and ensuring that a diverse range of people -can take part.

View demographic breakdown of participants here

Advisory group

We established an independent advisory group to provide oversight for the creation, structure and operation of the Citizens' Assembly.

The advisory group included a councillor from each the main political parties on the Council, as well as a representative of the Conservative Party, together with Oxford-based environment and democracy experts and representatives from local industry.

The group was chaired by City Council Leader, Councillor Susan Brown who provided leadership around the group’s guidance in a non-party political role. 

The members of the advisory group were:

  • Cllr Susan Brown, Leader, Oxford City Council (Labour) - Chair
  • Cllr Andrew Gant; Opposition Leader, Oxford City Council (Liberal Democrats)
  • Cllr Dick Wolff, Member, Oxford City Council (Green) 
  • Cllr James Mills, Leader, West Oxfordshire District Council (Conservative)
  • Professor Steve Fisher, Political Sociology, University of Oxford
  • Professor Myles Allen and Professor Nick Eyre, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
  • Mark Beard, Chairman/Mark Gregory, Bid Manager, Beard Construction
  • Richard Pantlin, Oxford Citizens Assembly Network
  • Zuhura Plummer, Oxford Extinction Rebellion
  • Nigel Carter, Secretary/Hassan Sabrie, Chair, East Oxford United
  • Yasmin Sidhwa, Artistic Director, Mandala Theatre Company
  • Dr Alan Renwick, Constitution Unit, University College London

As the recipient of recommendations from the citizens assembly, Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford was not member of the Advisory Group meetings, but attended the meetings.


Detailed feedback and recommendations from Assembly members across all of the sessions was collated and analysed by Ipsos MORI. The report was presented to the Council and was used to inform the Council’s future strategy.

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