Building our Response to the Climate Challenge Meeting

Sheffield Climate Alliance had led on organising with Jack Scott this pair of meetings on 13th June 2013 – the first for city leaders and the second a public meeting –  which were addressed by Dr John Broderick from the Tyndall Centre in Manchester, and Prof Andrew Gouldson from the Centre for Low Carbon Futures. Both meetings were successful, but Jack Scott expressed disappointment that there was not a higher attendance for the leaders’ briefing. However, there had been consensus and buy-in to create a climate programme such as outlined in the mini-Stern report. Getting capital to invest in this was not a major issue, although there would need to be a way to channel the value created (e.g. reduced energy bills) to pay for the funding. Another issue was how to achieve both the fast-track easy wins (the first 40% of reductions which can be achieved through a cost-neutral programme) and at the same time prepare the ground for more radical changes that would enable the other 40% of necessary reductions.

The meeting discussed how we could work more closely with Sheffield University, which is part of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures, and which had provided Mappin Hall. It was suggested that it would be useful to have an easy-to-follow exposition of the mini-Stern report, e.g. as an infographic, that could be shared with the wider public .

We discussed Birmingham Energy Savers as a model for how a Local Authority could get energy efficiency work done – there would be things Sheffield could learn from this scheme but because our Decent Homes programme and Free Insulation Scheme had already insulated 60,000 homes (1/4 of the total), there would be less easy wins here.

Jack Scott explained that he will set up a Green Commission, similar to the Fairness Commission, to clarify the vision and ensure action is taken. Civil society is particularly important to success, and more needs to be done to utilise its contribution.

We also discussed different approaches to getting public understanding of climate change – e.g. talking about the benefits of climate jobs, but keeping a humanitarian not just economic focus, and recognising that personal stories, not just science, will motivate people.

To make the most of the high level of support for the evening meeting (150+ people) we agreed to:

  • Do more media follow-up in the next few weeks of coverage in the Star and on radio
  • Ask the Star for a Viewpoint item soon
  • Share information about the videos and presentations (plus Do the Math) with our mailing list and via SCA organisations
  • Link to the Transition Sheffield events on 27th June to enable ways for people to get involved in action – have a special edition of our e-news with a handy guide to organisations
  • Especially link to people’s interest in Food, by highlighting the risks posed by climate change as documented in recent reports by Alice Bowes of Tyndall Centre, and by PWC. The Sheffield Food Plan is being revised and will contain a strong climate element. It is planned to go to Cabinet in October and hoped to carry out a wider public consultation before that. 
  • As part of the Green Commission, can a Green Assembly give a chance for public involvement in dialogue about the difficult issues? E.g. how to achieve reduction in consumption.  Can an online forum contribute to this? 
  • In publicising the meeting, the Sheffield is My Planet legacy Facebook, Twitter and email channels seemed to be very valuable – reckoned to have reached 3000 people – so we should look at how these could help us in future (talk to DECSY and Mark Daly).
  • We should recognise the ‘onion skins’ of how people get involved more closely or distantly, and tailor our communication for different groups.

Audio and slides from the meeting are available here:

Notes taken from SCACC