Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change

  • 49 people from across the region
  • 30 hours of learning and deliberation
  • 30 recommendations

If we’re going to have a region that stops contributing to the destruction of our planet, we have to involve people from all backgrounds, and with all kinds of opinions. I wanted the people of our region to have a say on this issue.

That’s why I was the first Metro Mayor to commission a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change. I wanted a cross-section of the community to look at the issues in depth and tell me what they thought we should do. 30 hours of their time, 30 recommendations for the North of Tyne.  It’s democracy in action.

A Citizens’ Assembly is composed of a randomly-selected but representative group of people convened to consider a specific issue. People learn about the topic, including hearing evidence from expert witnesses, then weigh possible policy options and make actionable recommendations.  It was overseen by a panel of experts from local authorities, trade unions, business, the voluntary sector, environmental groups, scientists, and academics.

The Assembly met over two months in early 2021 and produced 30 recommendations on housing, transport, energy, financing carbon reduction and raising awareness of the climate emergency. We then worked with our partner organisations to work out how to make them happen.

We’ve now agreed initial funding of £1 million to make an impact in three main areas:

  1. Skills for green growth to ensure a just transition;
  2. Support for community energy projects; and
  3. Retrofitting our housing stock.

The £2 million green skills programme includes delivering training to meet the skills demand in areas such as offshore wind (power generation & supply chain), retrofit and green construction.  This complements the Just Transition work we are undertaking with the Energy Democracy Project and Transition Economics. As part of the research underlying this work a survey of those working in the fossil fuel sector was carried out over Summer 2022.

The community energy sector has constantly encountered barriers to progress. Work has been done which recommends ways of overcoming these barriers, along with a potential plan for supporting community energy in the region. We are now working with partners (North East LEP, LAs, community groups and regional stakeholders) to develop further support for community energy projects which is being led regionally by the North East and Yorkshire Energy Hub.  Several organisations in Northumberland have already benefitted from Rural Community Energy Funding.

Retrofitting is a necessary first step to reducing energy use. We have now audited the region’s housing stock to provide the evidence base for a large-scale retrofitting programme.  I’m lobbying Government get that funding.

And this isn’t the last of it.  Progress on the recommendations from Citizens’ Assembly will be monitored and evaluated as a long standing commitment.

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