Expert speakers announced for Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change

Published: Thursday, 12th September 2019

Expert speakers & panellists from local business, transport, community activist groups, Oxford University, local government, & more will be speaking at the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change.

Oxford will be the first UK city to hold a Citizens Assembly on Climate Change. This follows a unanimous declaration of a Climate Emergency by councillors of all parties on Oxford City Council. The Assembly  will be held across two weekends (28-29 September 2019 and 19- 20 October 2019) at the Saïd Business School in Oxford city centre

It will comprise 50 Oxford residents, representative of the city’s population and selected through a randomised process. They will come together to discuss the overall 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?

This will be followed by detailed discussion on how carbon reduction could be achieved across Oxford’s buildings and transport, the role for renewables, offsetting and biodiversity and how to reduce waste. In each case Assembly participants will be asked to consider the trade-offs associated, including cost. 

The report on the findings of the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change will be formally presented to Oxford City Council with recommendations to be considered for adoption. It will inform the Council’s new Sustainability Strategy, which will reflect new measures and carbon emissions reduction targets.

Introductory speakers

The Assembly will be opened by a series of introductory speakers who will be providing an overview of the issues to participants.

The introductory speakers will be:

  • Linnet Drury, a student at Oxford Spires Academy who has participated in the school climate strikes in Oxford will be opening the introduction by discussing ‘Why is climate change important?’
  • Professor Myles Allen, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford will discuss ‘What are the impacts of climate change?’
  • Tara Clarke, Climate Outreach will discuss ‘How might climate change affect our lives?’
  • Barbara Hammond, Low Carbon Hub, will explore ‘Oxford’s response to climate change so far’
  • Jenny Hill, Committee on Climate Change will explain ‘What does net zero carbon mean?’
  • Asad Rehman, Director of War on Want will discuss ‘Inequality and climate justice - a global perspective’
  • Tim Sadler, Transition Director, Oxford City Council, will outline ‘Oxford City Council’s roles and responsibilities’ in relation to the climate emergency

Expert and panel speakers

The Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change will consist of around 30 expert speakers and panellists from organisations including: Climate Outreach, Environmental Change Institute, Friends of the Earth, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Bus Company, Oxford City Council, Oxford Preservation Trust, Pedal & Post, and Transition Network.

The expert speakers will in turn examine each of the five themes the Assembly has asked to consider:

  • How do we ensure our buildings are fit for the future?
  • How do we develop a sustainable transport system for net zero carbon?
  • How do we transform our energy system to ensure it comes from renewable sources?
  • What is the role of biodiversity and offsetting?
  • How do we reduce our waste to deliver net zero carbon?

They will provide an overview of the challenges associated with each one. They will then be joined by other experts forming a panel to share views on the options for action to address the challenge and the pros and cons associated with those actions. A full list of confirmed speakers can be found here.

Public participation

The Citizens Assembly is by invitation only and is not open to the public. However, as public interest in the discussions taking place within the Assembly is expected to be high, all of the speaker presentations will be filmed and broadcast through the City Council’s social media and all materials will be uploaded on its website: during each weekend.

There will be a small number of places for members of the public to attend the proceedings as observers. Invitations will go out shortly providing Oxford residents with an opportunity to enter a ballot to secure an observer place for different days of the Assembly.


The following people are members of the independent advisory group set up by the City Council to provide governance and oversight of the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change and chaired by Council Leader, Councillor Susan Brown. Councillor Tom Hayes attends Advisory Group meetings.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford “We are concerned about climate breakdown because it affects the people and places we care about. There is much we can do and the sooner we respond, the better off we will be. I’m excited by the huge possibilities of our Citizens  Assembly, a mini Oxford in its own right, especially for tackling head-on the problem of how to make our buildings fit for purpose, how to clean our energy, and how to get around in zero carbon way. What this Council does has to be practical and effective and the Citizens’ Assembly is crucial for determining our plan of action.”

Nick Eyre, Professor of Energy and Climate Policy, University of Oxford, said: “Local authorities have a key role in addressing climate change. So it excellent the City Council is taking this initiative to ensure action that will deliver what people in Oxford want”.

Mark Gregory, Bid Manager, Beard Construction, said:  “This is a radical innovation in democracy and an exceptional opportunity for the people of Oxford to have their say in such an important matter. There is a real need to focus on areas where we can make a difference here in Oxford, and Oxford City Council have provided the perfect platform to do so”.

Yasmin Sidhwa, Artistic Director, Mandala Theatre Company said: "Oxford has the opportunity to be heard, and to be one of the first cities in the UK to take positive action on tackling the climate breakdown.”

Zuhura Plummer, Extinction Rebellion Oxford, said: "Extinction Rebellion Oxford welcomes a Citizens’ Assembly which adequately communicates the risks we are all taking by not responding appropriately to the climate and ecological emergency. We believe that with good information and adequate time to deliberate, participants will make decisions which address this emergency, and are just and fair for the many residents of Oxford.” 

Richard Pantlin, Convenor, Oxford Citizens Assembly Network said: “Many people outside Oxford around England and beyond are watching our experience. We must make it a success for the future of democracy itself."

Councillor Dick Wolff, Green Party Member, Oxford City Council said: "The Green Party has long argued for this sort of initiative.  I was concerned that it might delay and water down our response to climate breakdown, but the level of engagement and determination to make this bold experiment succeed with the necessary urgency is very high.  It's an opportunity for every Oxford resident to think seriously about what we can do — collectively as a city, but also as individual citizens."

Find out more about the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change at