Blackpool Council declared a climate emergency in June 2019, recognising the need for urgent change. The town has set an ambitious objective to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
As a way to include their citizens in shaping the future of their place, Blackpool wanted to hold their first citizen’s assembly. We supported them through the process, running four assembly sessions, and creating a list of principles and recommendations to help achieve their climate goals.
To make sure the assembly was representative of all parts of the community, we sent letters to 8,000 people living in Blackpool. A group of 40 residents was then selected, representative of different ages, genders, races and backgrounds.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the entire assembly needed to happen online. As Blackpool is the most deprived local authority area in the country, we knew there would be potential barriers around digital literacy and access to technology. To make sure everyone could take part effectively, we put support in place before the assembly, wrote all communications in plain English, hosted one-to-one workshops on using video software, and provided childcare vouchers to those with caring responsibilities.
Working closely with Blackpool, we co-created the focus, speakers, and intended learnings of the assembly sessions, striking a balance between education and discussion. Assembly members were tasked with answering the question:
What can the council, local organisations and the residents do to counter the climate emergency?
The Assembly took place over four virtual sessions, involving a mix of education and deliberation, with the first and second sessions focused on providing context around the climate emergency. Sessions three and four involved discussion in small groups led by a team of facilitators.
With a small delivery budget, we were able to run four 2.5 hour assemblies with 40 residents, hosting 10 expert guest speakers, entirely virtually.
The Blackpool Climate Assembly has made recommendations against eight issues as part of the town's push to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. These are built around:
- generating and buying clean energy: establishing an Energy Task Force and writing a Local Energy Plan
- transport: making public transport and walking the primary ways to get around the town centre, innovative approaches to fares, a low emissions zone, expansion of low carbon infrastructure and more electric vehicles
- homes: exceeding current energy efficiency standards, introducing an Energy MOT for existing buildings, and introducing a Climate Contact Point scheme to promote energy efficiency
- reducing waste across the system: increasing opportunities to recycle in Blackpool, including initiatives around food waste
- education and awareness: support for schools to implement carbon reduction plans and greater levels of adult education on the climate
- community action: the creation of local action groups around climate change issues, supported by local hubs and a network of community champions
- networking and influencing national government: supporting and promoting green business, a Climate Business Forum and more vocal public support for achieving net zero from political leaders in Blackpool
- biodiversity: a revolution in the use of space in the town, and environmental impact given more attention by business
A timeline has been created to measure the success of the recommendations, whilst holding the council accountable. Many residents involved in the assembly are eager to get involved in similar projects and receive updates on the progress in Blackpool.
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