The Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change was held over two full weekends (28-29 September 2019 and 19- 20 October 2019) at the Said Business School.
The Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change considered the topic:
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 separate areas:
- How do we use less energy?
- Buildings – how do we ensure our buildings are fit for the future?
- Transport – how do we develop a sustainable zero-carbon transport system?
- How do we make more energy?
- 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?
- Waste – How do we reduce our waste to deliver net zero?
- Offsetting – How could Oxford offset the emissions it can’t reduce?
The issue of biodiversity was considered within each of these subject areas.
Participants in the Assembly heard from 27 expert speakers who set out the scale of the issue and addressed the range of options to reduce emissions from buildings, transport, waste, and energy production as well as the role of carbon offsetting and importance of protecting biodiversity
Panels brought together speakers with different views and perspectives on each subject area.
Weekend one - View weekend one schedule here
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.
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.
In line with best practice, 50 Assembly participants were recruited through a stratified random process, creating a ‘mini-public’ broadly representative of the demographics of the city’s population.
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 to participate. The size of the Assembly enables citizens with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to come together in detailed discussion on a common issue.
To ensure we had a genuinely representative a 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.
The 2011 Census was used to draw up the target quota for the Citizen Assembly.
In line with good practice in encouraging full participation, participants will each be paid a £300 honorarium, recognising the time they are giving up to take part and ensuring that a diverse range of people - including those on low-incomes or with caring responsibilities etc. can take part
Detailed feedback and recommendations from Assembly members across all of the sessions is now being collated and analysed by Ipsos MORI and will be compiled into a full report to the City Council, that will be published in the week commencing 18 November. This will be presented to Cabinet in December and Full Council in January for response and will inform the City Council’s future sustainability strategy.