The climate assembly
A climate assembly was held in Blackpool because the climate emergency is such an important issue.
We wanted to make sure that the local community got to have a real say in decisions and were involved in shaping climate change projects that were right for them.
FutureGov ran the assembly for us in Blackpool. This ensured the process was independent.
Around forty Blackpool residents took part in the climate assembly, which was run entirely digitally due to the pandemic.
Blackpool's climate assembly process - more information
"I’d been busy with family and work, and didn’t know what I could do as an individual to make a difference, other than sorting my recycling into the right boxes."
Read the story of one resident who decided to get involved in Blackpool's climate assembly.
Youth climate assembly
A separate youth climate group has been set up to bring together young people across Blackpool.
A youth assembly was held by the group and this fed into the climate assembly sessions to make sure young people's voices are heard in the fight against climate change.
"I think people only focus on the environment when they have no other priorities; like it's a novelty rather than an emergency?"
Blackpool youth climate assembly - more information
You can find out what happened during the climate assembly sessions, which took place in January and February 2021.
Four sessions took place, which included expert guest speakers and discussion about the climate emergency in Blackpool.
View the details from each session below, follow our social media pages and sign up for email updates.
Session 1 was focused on introductions, getting participants comfortable with the assembly format, introducing members to the idea of a climate emergency, hearing about solutions, and creating a long list of principles to guide the assembly’s recommendations.
The session began with an introduction and welcome from Councillor Jim Hobson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change for Blackpool Council, who explained why Blackpool Council had declared a climate emergency and commissioned an assembly. We then heard from Eva, the moderator, who went through ground rules.
John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental Services at Blackpool Council talked about existing plans in place to reduce emissions in Blackpool. Two young people from Junior Park Rangers, Rosa and Julianne, then gave a young person's perspective on hopes for the assemblies and future action.
Participants were then split into 9 small groups hosted by a facilitator. The participants introduced themselves, and explained the reasons they’d volunteered to take part in the assembly.
After a short break, the participants heard from five speakers who explained the areas of focus that will have the biggest impact on reducing emissions in Blackpool. The speakers were:
Following the presentations, the group participated in a short question & answer session with the guest speakers.
Finally, participants joined small group discussions where the facilitators supported them through a discussion on the principles that will guide the assembly's recommendations. At the end of the sessions, there was a brief report-back from several facilitators about their group’s discussions. After a short introduction into next week’s session, the group adjourned for the evening.
The aim of session 2 was to recap on the presentations from session 1, review the draft principles, understand how local government, businesses, and residents can take action to combat climate change, and develop a long list of issues that participants think the assembly should focus on.
The session began with a welcome from the moderator, who then reminded participants of the ground rules, and summarised the highlights from the guest speakers who presented in session 1. The participants were split into 8 groups, each led by a facilitator. In the previous session, groups had discussed principles to help guide the recommendations the assembly will make. These results had been summarised and the common principles that were decided were presented. Each group reviewed the principles and discussed if they agreed with them, which ones were most important to them, and why they matter.
The assembly principles shared in this session were as follows. Recommendations from the assembly should:
- Focus on future generations
- Be realistic and fair
- Be locally-focused
- Be community-driven
- Be transparent and accountable
- Be bold and ambitious
- Hold organisations to account
Following this, the participants heard from two guest speakers.
First was Peter Lefort, who is the Carbon Neutral Cornwall Partnerships Manager at Cornwall council, who spoke about decision-making tools used by Cornwall council.
Camden Climate Assembly
The assembly then heard from Beverly Rich, a member of the Camden Climate Assembly, who spoke about her experience in the assembly and her continued involvement in climate action. After their presentations, participants were given the opportunity to to ask questions of the guest speakers.
After a short break, participants went back into their small groups. Each group heard from four different guest speakers where they had time to learn about what businesses and organisations in Blackpool are doing to address the climate emergency. Participants heard from:
- Rob Gomm - Upside Down Cafe
- John Butler - Premier Cabs
- James Carney - Blackpool Transport
- John Child - Sandcastle Water Park
- Debbs Lancelott & Emma Threlfall - Houndshill Shopping Centre
- Jonathan Hutchinson - Grange Community Farm
- Rebecca Trevalyan - Library of Things
The speakers introduced themselves, explained how they were taking action, and then engaged in a conversation with the participants who had the opportunity to ask them questions.
Finally, in small groups the participants discussed the issues they would like the assembly to address through their recommendations. These issues were collated into a long list, which will be used to create recommendations in sessions 3 and 4.
The aim of this session was to recap on the presentations and discussions from session 2, review the compiled list of issues participants said the assembly should focus on, agree on the issues the assembly wants to prioritise, and start identifying problems and formulating recommendations.
The assembly kicked off with the moderator welcoming participants, going through the ground rules again, and explaining the aim and objectives of the session. The moderator then did a brief recap of the content from the presentations and discussion groups from session two.
Following this, participants went into their breakout groups. The facilitator shared the list of issues the participants had said the assembly should focus on in session two. Groups were given time to identify any gaps, and then had a discussion about what the gaps were. Facilitators fed back the gaps back to the wider group.
Each break out group then reviewed the updated list of issues, and were given time to think about the five or six priorities they would like the assembly to focus on, and make their decisions in line with the assembly's principles. Each participant voted on their priorities, with the facilitators reporting their group's overall results to the wider group. The issues were:
- How homes are heated and powered
- Reducing emissions from commercial business and industry
- Reducing emissions from transport
- Promoting active travel - cycling and walking
- Using council power and influence to design and promote low carbon living
- Generating and buying clean energy
- Protecting green spaces, nature, and biodiversity
- Reducing waste
- Influencing central government
- Supporting community action
- Networking and collaboration
The project team reviewed priorities and gave each breakout group one or two issues to focus on. The group discussed and agreed on the problems related to the issues, causes of the problems, what has been done to combat them already, and began generating ideas for solutions. Finally, each facilitator reported back on their group's ideas to the wider group.
The aim of this session was to give participants the opportunity to finalise the assembly's recommendations, communicate the report writing process, thank the participants for taking part, and letting them know how they can stay in touch on Blackpool Council’s climate action following the assembly.
The session began with the moderator explaining the aim and objectives of the session, followed by a recap of previous sessions. The Assembly then heard from two young people, who took part in the Blackpool Youth Assembly, a parallel process for young people aged 11-18, who presented their recommendations.
The participants then went into their original breakout groups, and discussed what they felt about the young people’s presentations and how their views and opinions should influence this assembly's recommendations.
Following this the participants reviewed the list and descriptions of the issues the assembly was focusing on, and made any necessary adjustments. Relevant information from the presentations had been pulled together, and the facilitator also did a recap of that information to ensure participants were able to make well-informed decisions.
The issues the climate assembly focused on were:
- Education and awareness
- Generating and buying clean energy
- Reducing waste across the system
- Community action
- Network building and influencing national government
After this exercise participants were then given the opportunity to contribute to 3 other issues that they were passionate about. The facilitators stayed in the same rooms, focusing on the same issues, but participants were able to move to 3 different rooms of their choice, every 15 minutes.
Participants then went back into their original groups, and refined the recommendations they wished to make, by agreeing with the group which one to take forwards, and then refining them to state who the recommendation was for and a timeline for how long it should take to implement.
Finally, the Assembly came back together, and a representative from each group was given the opportunity to feed back their group's recommendations. The moderator explained the next steps for writing the report, and to finish off, Councillor Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, thanked participants for taking part.
Taking part in the climate assembly
The people who take part in an assembly are chosen at random to represent the wider community.
Everyone in Blackpool had an equal chance of being invited to take part.
Invitations were sent out in November to around 8,000 randomly selected Blackpool households. The invitations provided information about how people in those households could apply to take part.
Those who applied to take part were asked to provide some basic information about themselves.
This information was used to make sure that the people taking part in the assembly fairly reflected the rest of the town in terms of things like age and gender.
Forty people were selected to take part in the assembly. This was a fantastic opportunity for local people to shape our approach to the climate emergency.
The power of the assembly
We take the assembly process very seriously.
We will consider the actions the assembly recommends and provide regular updates.
The action plan for the climate emergency in Blackpool will be led by what the assembly decides we should do.
After the assembly
FutureGov have written a report about the views of the assembly.
It was presented to a scrutiny committee for comment.
Read the meeting minutes from the scrutiny committee
The report recommendations will be presented to councillors and senior leaders and to the 'Blackpool Climate Action Partnership' so they can consider and act on the recommendations.
People will be able to speak with these decision makers about what they're doing to put the recommendations into practice.
Getting involved in other ways
There’s lots you can do to get involved with the climate emergency in Blackpool.