Leeds Climate Change Citizen Jury was commissioned by the Leeds Climate Commission to ensure citizens voices were heard in Leeds' vision for achieving carbon zero emissions. The Jury produced 12 recommendations which informed Leeds City Council's 2020 Climate Emergency Strategy.
Problems and Purpose
The aim of the citizens' jury was to ensure the voices of citizens were included in the vision for achieving carbon neutrality and to enable more deliberative citizen input in addition to other types of feedback the council was gathering through questionnaires, for example.
The Jury addressed the following question set by an independent oversight panel: “What should Leeds do about the emergency of Climate Change?”
The oversight panel judged that this broad and open question would avoid restricting Jury members, and enable them to consider a wide range of issues outside boundaries set by professionals and academics, to encourage neglected and marginalised perspectives to be articulated, and to allow space for creativity and guidance from citizens. Since the jury was not commissioned by the local authority directly, it meant there was independence and a more open question enabled space to explore issues the local authority might not have identified.
Background History and Context
In the summer of 2019, Leeds Climate Commission, an independent advisory body, held and financed a Climate Change Citizens’ Jury as part of the response to Leeds' commitment to carbon neutrality.
The jury complemented Leeds City Council’s Big Leeds Climate Conversation which was launched on July 16, 2019 and ran until November 30, 2019, and the Council's earlier decision to declare a climate emergency on March 27, 2019. The Big Leeds Climate Conversation consisted of 80 events across the city, where council officers engaged with Leeds citizens in a variety of locations including Leeds West Indian Carnival, Light Night, Breeze events and Child Friendly Leeds Live. Additionally, focus groups, workshops, and an online questionnaire were used to gather feedback and suggestions that would inform Leeds City Council’s response to the climate emergency.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The jury was commissioned by Leeds Climate Commission (LCC). LCC was established in 2017 to help Leeds make a positive choice on issues relating to energy, carbon, weather and climate. It comprises organisations from the public, private and third sectors, and is chaired by Professor Andy Gouldson (University of Leeds), with Cllr Lisa Mulherin (Leeds City Council) as vice chair.
Leeds Climate Commission commissioned Shared Future (a Community Interest Company with expertise in deliberative processes) to deliver the jury. The process was led by a team of independent facilitators from the social enterprise with extensive experience in Citizens’ Jury facilitation.
Shared Future worked with the Sortition Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes the use of stratified, random selection in decision-making.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The Sortition Foundation designed the recruitment process. 4000 households across Leeds received a recruitment letter explaining the citizens' jury and inviting those who were interested to either complete a very simple online form or use a free phone number to register their interest. The Sortition Foundation randomly selected the 4000 addresses from the Royal Mail’s address database. 25 people were recruited for the panel and 21 attended throughout the sessions. The profile of the 25 people reflected the local diversity in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, disability, geography, attitude to climate change.
A £25 gift voucher per session was paid to each participant; there was also a budget available for participants to claim travel expenses and any support needs (e.g. childcare).
Methods and Tools Used
The citizens' jury primarily used a process of presentations, group discussions and Q and A sessions. Jurors were also able to determine the focus for the topics of the final sessions. Additionally, a number of specific approaches were applied.
Speakers were asked not to use powerpoint. The organisers wanted to avoid the process feeling like school as much as possible, and were aware that the public would have different levels of literacy in relation to reading graphs. The speakers responded to this in a variety of creative ways, including using Lego in place of graphs, and props and materials like bubblewrap to illustrate different elements of climate science.
Additionally the process utilised a number of techniques including:
- Problem tree
- Visioning activities
- A "speed dating" type event where jurors spoke to one another on a one to one basis
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The project was led by an oversight panel consisting of 12 representatives of various public, private and voluntary sector organisations, including Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Leeds City Council, The Madina Town Movement, Our Future Leeds, Project Rome, Racial Justice Network, University of Leeds, Yorkshire Water and Youth Strike for Climate. This group was supported by a small project team of 5 people.
The panel made decisions about the recruitment process and the jury profile; it also selected expert commentators who would give presentations to the jury and answer questions from them. 22 commentators (who served the same function as expert witnesses in other juries) were invited to give evidence to the jury.
The jury addressed the question of what Leeds should do about the emergency of Climate Change. It ran for 30 hours over 9 sessions between September and November 2019. Participants heard from 22 commentators, and produced 12 recommendations across a range of areas. Each of the sessions were facilitated by Peter Bryant and Jenny Willis of Shared Future. The sessions were organised as follows:
Session 1: Welcome and setting the scene
12 September (6:30-9pm): Participants thought about the topic and recognised the value of their own expertise, developing a problem tree to encourage deeper thinking around the topic.
Session 2: An introduction to climate change (the science and impacts)
This session started with a visioning activity, in which members were encouraged to work in small groups to articulate a vision for the Leeds region in 30 years time. The intention was to build relationships and trust. Prompt questions included “What kind of place do we want to live in?” and “What will our neighbourhoods and communities look like and feel like?”.
Commentators, Dr Cat Scott and Prof Julia Steinberger spoke for 25 minutes addressing “What is climate change?”, “Why is the earth warming?” and “What are and will be the impacts of climate change?” This was followed by group discussion and a Q and A session.
Session 3: The contribution of Leeds to climate change
Commentators: Prof. Andy Gouldson (Leeds Climate Commission and Leeds University) and Prof. Paul Chatterton (Our Future Leeds and Leeds University)
Each commentator was given a 15 minute slot, addressing the following themes
- How have our carbon emissions changed in the last 30 years?
- Where do we think our emissions are heading in the next 30 years?
- What are our current city emissions and who is responsible?
- What carbon targets has the city adopted and why?
- What are the options for meeting these targets?
Session 4: How do we effect change? An International Perspective
"How do we effect change?" Commentator: Andrew Simms (New Weather Insitute; Rapid Transition Alliance)
This session addressed how change can be achieved (technological, organisational and cultural), obstacles and challenges, and the role of power and the tools that can be used to reduce emissions.
"An International Perspective" Commentators: Penny Wangari Jones and Sai Murray (West Yorkshire Racial Justice Network).
They discussed how climate change is currently affecting people in other countries and what will happen in the future.
Sessions 5, 6 and 7
At the end of session 4, participants were invited to consider which three topics they would like to investigate in more depth in sessions 5, 6 and 7. They reached a consensus, and chose to focus on “Transport” and “Communication/Community Involvement”, with “Housing” recommended as the third theme following discussion with the oversight panel. In addition, the jury requested that future commentators should consider:
- What the individual can do, what businesses can do, and what governments can do
- What could motivate government/individuals/business to take action and what are the barriers?
- Giving examples, costs and explain how much this would contribute to reducing carbon as well as explaining other impacts, for example jobs.
For sessions 5,6 and 7, the oversight panel was keen on making sure that members of the jury heard from a range of perspectives. As a result, facilitators decided it was best to change the format of the commentator’s sessions depending upon how many were present.
For the transport sessions, the groups were divided into three groups of approximately 7 people. Each commentators visited each group to speak for 10 minutes followed by 10 minutes Q and A. In the Housing and Communication and Community Involvement sessions, the commentators spoke for 5 minutes, followed by a period of reflection; following this, jury members could then visit each speaker and ask follow up questions for the remaining 25 minutes, concluding with summary processes and a large Q and A session to reflect on learning.
The commentators were as follows:
Transport Session Commentators:
- Paul Foster (Leeds City Council, Transport Projects Manager).
- Mark Goldstone (Head of Policy and Representation: W and N Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce).
- Millie Duncan: Leeds Climate Commission (on the airport)
Housing Session Commentators:
- Neil Evans (Director of Resources and Housing. Leeds City Council)
- Steve Batty (Head of Sustainability Places & Communities UK & Ireland. Engie)
- Andy Walker (Sure Insulation)
- Steve Rowley (Leeds Property Association)
- Cindy Readman (Save our Homes LS26)
Communication and Community Involvement Session Commentators
- Jamie Clarke (Executive Director: Climate Outreach)
- Rob Greenland (Social Business Brokers CIC).
- Lydia Dibben (Extinction Rebellion Leeds).
- Julian Pearce (Senior Consultant, Social Communications).
- Alexis Percival (Trustee of Roundhay Environmental Action Project).
Sessions 8: Finance, Leeds City Council
- Councillor Lisa Mulherin (Executive Board Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainable Development, Leeds City Council).
- Andrew Sudmant (Research Fellow: School of Earth and Environment: Leeds University)
In order for the recommendations of the Jury to be most useful for stakeholders, the oversight panel decided an indication of how changes might be financed was important, a concern that was also raised by the Jurors themselves when asking for further information. Session 8 explored models of finance and how to pay for the changes necessary to respond to climate change.
Session 8 and 9:
Session 8 and 9 also focused on participants writing their own recommendations. Session 9 was the last meeting of the jury and took the form of a full day of deliberation. This was set up as a “speed dating” type event where jurors would sit in rows, spend 1.5 minutes talking about what they felt were the most important issues, before alternating with their partner and then moving down the row. Jurors then assembled around tables organised around themes they were most interested in, to produce draft recommendations. These were then merged where possible and refined where appropriate.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The recommendations emerging from the process were as follows:
- 1st (20 Votes) Transport: measures to reduce use of private cars and increase public transport, including taking First Bus service into public control, safe cycle lanes, park and ride, increased and improved pedestrian areas, united public transport fare system, congestion charge and car sharing framework.
- =2nd (17 votes) Housing efficiency: Council enables communities to transition to greener energy sources and retrofit houses
- =2nd (17 votes) Leeds act together: large scale drive to improve awareness and education, especially in schools
- 4th (15 votes) Funding and Finance: variety of funding sources, investment fund, local government green bond, carbon budget, pension funds, crowdfunding, business case support
- 5th (14 votes): Devolution: devolved power to enable local action on climate change, Manchester as model
- 6th (13 votes) Green spaces: reclaim abandoned spaces and create more green spaces
- 7th (12 votes) New Housing: must be A or B energy rating and include green spaces, shared facilities and communal areas, new technology e.g smart homes.
- 8th (11 votes) Leeds Green New Deal: stimulate development of low carbon solutions, creating new jobs, boosting the economy and improving people’s lives
- 9th (9 votes) Stop Leeds Bradford Airport expansion: Council should not approve the expansion, frequent flyer tax, advertising holidays in UK rather than abroad.
- =10th (8 votes) Carbon Neutral by 2030: ask companies to pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, introduce a Leeds First scheme (kitemark) for those actively supporting climate change action.
- =10th (8 votes) Improved access to recycling: more extensive opportunities available, accessible especially to disabled people and non-drivers
- 12th (3 votes) Waste plastic: food and drink outlets in Leeds provide refundable deposit cups in place of disposables. No business/citizen uses single use plastic
The jury also requested a progress report from Leeds Climate Commission, Leeds City Council, and any other stakeholders involved in the implementation of the recommendations. This would provide the following information:
- Update report on all recommendations with details on why they were or were not taken on
- Progress report on any ongoing project from the recommendations at the following intervals: 3 / 6 / 9 / 12 months from launch date.
- Review of rejected recommendations to see if now relevant.
- Investigate the idea of a repeat process with this group and maybe some new recruits
The recommendations were presented at a launch event on Monday 25 November 2019 in Leeds.
The aims and objectives of the Citizen Jury were described quite broadly as informing the vision of Leeds achieving carbon zero emissions, and providing richer, more deliberative input in addition to the feedback gathered by the council from the Big Leeds Climate Conversation. Although the local authority did not directly commission the Jury, it did take responsibility for responding to the recommendations. Leeds City Council published a Climate Emergency Strategy in January 2020 which was described as informed by the work of the citizen jury. This was followed by a formal response to the recommendations published in March 2020 (available here).
Overall, the impact of the citizen jury on climate change in Leeds was its ability to provide the local authority with a greater political mandate to be more ambitious on climate change. Councillors and council officers talked of the value in hearing from a much broader range of views than they normally hear from on climate change, and having provided the space for a more in-depth exploration of the issue than usual consultation methods.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
There are a number of challenges in measuring impact including the fact that recommendations were directed at actors beyond the council (the public, national government) and were sometimes expressed in ways that made it difficult to attribute impact.
The council have provided updates on progress, although those involved have suggested that progress is gradual and the processes take a long time, and therefore intervals longer than 3 months might better reflect the rate of progress.
The original submission of this case entry was adapted from Shared Future (2019). The Leeds Climate Change Citizens' Jury, published under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). It has since been edited and expanded by the Participedia community and does not necessarily reflect the views of Shared Future CIC.
Leeds Climate Change Citizens' Jury and Shared Future (2019). The Leeds Climate Change Citizens' Jury. Retrieved from https://www.leedsclimate.org.uk/sites/default/files/REPORT%20V1.1%20FINAL_0.pdf