Oxford City Council has committed to being a Zero Carbon Council by 2030 at the latest, but the council’s own carbon footprint represents one per cent of overall emissions in Oxford. As the climate emergency means we all need to make some fundamental changes in the way we live, Oxford will hold a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, the first of its kind in the UK to meet all the conditions for a robust Assembly.
Our Citizens’ Assembly will help to set a course for the council and Oxford as a whole by helping to resolve trade-offs involved in meeting the urgency of the crisis and the council’s other responsibilities with limited funding. An Independent Advisory Group has been established to agree the format and aims for the Citizens’ Assembly and define the issues it is to consider.
By the end of November 2019, the Assembly will have finished, having met for two full weekends, during which participants would have learned about climate change and explored options to cut carbon emissions through presentations from experts and facilitated workshops. Members would have considered measures to reduce Oxford’s carbon emissions to net zero and, as part of this, measures that reduce the council’s own carbon footprint to net zero by 2030.
The structure of the Assembly follows guidelines set out by the leading public participation charity Involve. Fifty Oxford residents have been selected through a stratified random process, creating a ‘mini-public’ representative of the demographics of the population. Ipsos MORI has undertaken the recruitment of participants and provides overall facilitation for the Citizens Assembly. In line with good practice in encouraging full participation, participants receive 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 can take part.
Following a series of structured sessions in which they will hear from experts and a range of speakers with different perspectives, participants will be invited to vote on a number of options. The preferred options will form the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, which will be published and presented to Oxford City Council to consider for adoption in the 2019/2020 Budget.