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Dorset Climate Action Network (Dorset CAN)

A Dorset-wide network is taking shape and Planet Shaftesbury is part of it. Anyone who participates in our meetings is invited to join in with Dorset CAN. Facilitator, Rob Waitt, says: " The high attendance at both our meetings has shown the high level of interest and enthusiasm there is for a Dorset wide network. It is clear how motivated the people of Dorset are to come together and work together to face the greatest challenge in our human history. All inspiring stuff!".

Rob, Dorset CAN chair Michael Dower, and others in the start-up team have provided this review:

Our first meeting This was an informal get-together where we all brainstormed ideas about how to respond to Dorset Council's Climate & Ecological Emergency Strategy (DC's CEE Strategy) and the mission of Dorset CAN. This format was popular, with everyone enjoying sharing ideas and making new connections with fellow Dorset activists. Our second meeting This was more formal and focused on structure and governance. Feedback highlighted that this was too much formality, too early, and people wanted to return to the informal format where they can simply 'Come Together' and share ideas, make connections and collaborate on projects. What has been agreed from the first two meetings? The name: Dorset Climate Action Network (Dorset CAN) Scope: To include Dorset County and BCP. In short everyone in Dorset is welcome! Actions: To produce a collective response to DC CEE Strategy consultation We have listened to each other and this is the suggested plan going forwards..... Main Activities:

  • Organise informal Get-togethers where people can come together and share ideas and make connections (network). Through this we believe the group's purpose, aims, focus and activities will evolve based on the interests of the people attending.

  • In the immediate 6 weeks ahead, work together to create a collective response to Dorset Council's Climate & Ecological Emergency Strategy (DC CEE). This is in recognition of the power of many voices coming together to unite around key demands/messages. (See below for more about how you can join Planet Shaftesbury's engagement with this.)

  • Encourage as many people as possible to complete DC CEE Strategy Consultation. Dorset Council genuinely wants to gauge the public response so please share the survey widely - details here. There is also a shorter snapshot survey aimed at younger people and optimised for use on a mobile phone.

  • Pull together an Action Team with people from all regions of Dorset to coordinate and facilitate the group activities. Everyone is welcome to put their name forward. We will discuss this further at our next Get-together.

  • Campaign for Council-Partnered Working Groups to pursue the implementation of the Climate & Ecological Emergency Strategies in both Dorset Council and BCP Council areas. This would be an excellent way to push for full ownership of strategies by the communities and the Councils.

  • Supporting Community Groups as well as Town & Parish Councils to put their climate and environmental plans into action. The aims here are to encourage greater public engagement and to enable the successes and benefits of projects to be seen and shared.

Style of our Get-togethers: Open forum with a facilitator rather than a "traditional chair", opportunities to exchange views, ideas and form action parties or campaign support groups, as per people's passions and capacities. Any administration such as note-taking, follow-up communications, etc., will be agreed between participants and action parties We recognise the importance of structure and governance and when/if we as a group feel we need this; we can pick up the conversation again. When are our next Get-togethers? 1. New Year 'Get to know each other' & Planning for 2021 (See poll below for date options) The first part of the session will likely be a speed dating style, with two short rounds of Breakout room sessions, mixing people up from different areas of Dorset so we can all get to know each other. The second part will be an extended Breakout room session where we can discuss what we would like to do as members of Dorset CAN in 2021.Then feedback our best ideas to the main group. Then finally, discuss how we form our new Action Team. We'll be aiming for fun and inspiration to energise everyone for a busy year of action ahead! Please let us know your availability on this link below by Wed 9th Dec: 2. Dorset CAN Advocacy Team Meet Up 7th January 2021 Get-together of all individuals and groups who are responding to DC's CEE Strategy and want to share notes, ideas and create a collective response that has the power of being endorsed by many environmental voices from across Dorset. We have the potential of sending a powerful joint message to DC about what we all collectively want to see happen! Plus, discuss how we can help DC by encouraging as many people as possible in Dorset to participate in their consultation. To be added to the mailing list for Dorset CAN please email Rob at Planet Shaftesbury meeting on December 10th will discuss DC's CEE Strategy and the informal feedback that came from the first Dorset CAN meeting (set out below). We will then decide how to contribute to Dorset CAN's collective response and whether to submit an additional response from Planet Shaftesbury to DC as well as our individual responses. Dorset Climate Action Network: Michael Dower's Summary of comments about Dorset Council Climate and Ecological Strategy (Bracketed numbers are those of the break-out groups at the 19 November Open Meeting)

Welcome the Strategy (4). Congratulate them (9). Strategy is timely (JM), technically good, well presented (2), easy to read, accessible (9), aspirational (5, 14), comprehensive, quite brave considering lack of government policy to support some DC aspirations (1). But strategy does not address root causes … lack of alternatives (10, 14). It should recognise that our human relationship to nature is dysfunctional. Part of our mission is to radically reimagine our position on the planet to see ourselves within and part of nature (16).

Presentation and communication. Need for more and better communication about the plan. It's difficult to quickly get a sense of what the actions are. The documents are problematic for people who are not on line. Important to ensure that young people are engaged in responding to it (1).

Our reaction. All should respond to survey (5). We should encourage people we know to respond to the survey (14). We should collaborate with the Council on friendly terms, but also consider the limits of our influence : therefore focus on easy wins. We need to have sub-groups looking at every aspect of our lifestyles, which are unsustainable ! (3). Dorset CAN should be a driver of new ideas (19).

Dates are not ambitious enough (1,14). Deadlines are far too distant (8). Time-line should be quicker (15, 19). 2050 is too far away (3), 2040-50 is too late (4), 2040 is too late (7), 2040 is mind blowing, must be brought forward (9). The aim should be 2040 for the County, 2035 for Dorset Council (6), 2040 for the county, 2030 for Dorset Council (JM). Very unambitious for both, compared to Wiltshire target of 2030 for both Council and County (11). More ambitious target should be considered for net zero: but need to work out what's achievable, and viable from a social equality perspective. What have other Council's committed to? (14).

Lack of clear targets. Strategy is too warm and weak (16). There is a lack of specifics - time scales, costs, deliverables (2). Interim targets needed (carbon budget) (14). No end-date is given for fossil fuels (8). Too many vague objectives (7). Vague objectives will not be achieved : definition and deadlines are critical (2). More needed on specific actions (5). No mention of need to go beyond carbon neutral to carbon negative (JM). No commitment to refusing new fossil fuel applications (8). Plan needs to be developed in terms of actions, timings, outcomes, priorities (14). Targets should include our overseas carbon footprint. Should we apply to Dorset the following national NGO vision : “by 2023, UK territorial emissions have declined by more than 50% on 1990 levels, and the UK’s international carbon footprint has declined by more than 33% on 1990 levels” ?(14).

Process. There is a lot to do, given that Dorset declared the Climate Emergency later than other counties (8). Our experience is that Dorset Council's policies are often convincingly worded but not backed up by action (8). We should ask what form the annual review will take. Could a mid-year review take place so that focus and workload can be passed down the chain to local action groups, schools etc. to ensure we all do our part to keep exceeding each year's target ? All should be pulling in the same direction, stronger together (9). There is too much dependence on ‘business as usual’ (8). Strategy relies too much on money from central government : there should be more emphasis on other sources of funding. (14)

Strategy as a focus for Council action. For everything it does, the Council must consider its climate and ecological impact. The Climate and Ecological Emergency must be the ‘green thread’ that runs through everything that the Council does and every decision they make (11). Every single decision they make must go through a 'how will this help us become carbon negative ? process (9). There should be a Climate & Emergency Campion in Cabinet, in the style of the Welsh Assembly, with ability to challenge each Council decision against aims and policies stated in the Strategy (19). “Low Carbon Dorset” is an effective team whose role could be extended as Climate and Ecology champions (19). They need a dedicated team to ensure that process is followed and to ensure they are exceeding even the most ambitious plans. DC has the opportunity to become a ‘world leader’ if the right help can be brought in. They'll make big money if they then 'consult' to other districts on how they can catch up with us (9). The Council must apply pressure on central government to do its job, act now on these emergencies and provide the resources to enable local councils and communities to deliver solutions (11).

Calls for more emphasis on particular sectors Biodiversity. Parks department should increase biodiversity in parks and recreation grounds by reduced cutting of vegetation (3). A greater focus on biodiversity is required - there is not enough about protection (11). Insufficient emphasis on ‘rewilding’ and ecological restoration (JM). Do not cut trees (13).

Carbon budget and emissions. Concern about social justice. How has the carbon budget that underlies the targets has been calculated ? The carbon budget should reflect direct carbon production and carbon produced by consumption, e.g. goods purchased but produced outside the UK (1). The international footprint and overseas carbon footprint must be calculated (14). To show genuine commitment to net zero, the Council’s Pension Plan must achieve full divestment from fossil fuel (8). The Strategy should consider the CO2 emissions, and the visual and psychological impact of all Council activities : for example, it should prevent or discourage firework displays (2). There is no mention of Wych Farm onshore oil extraction site (8). Don’t rely on carbon capture : seek other sources of fuel (14).

Coast and Sea. Sea should be mentioned (12). Note threat of flooding coastal homes (3)

Energy. The Council should use whatever powers it has to cut all inessential lighting, while maintaining safety and security : this would save electricity and CO2 emissions, and would show the public that we have a crisis on our hands. It should also campaign to encourage all sections of society to do the same (2). It should promote serious investment in solar energy; and take a fresh look at the Navitus project for offshore wind turbines (9). We need more on local energy production : what is within our grasp, or sphere of influence? (14)

Farming. Agriculture is not tackled in a substantive way (8). More attention to farming (5, 8). Focus on the impact of Intensive livestock farming. Make farming free of insecticides and pesticides (3). Aim at local food self-sufficiency (3).

Planning regulations may need to be sharpened and enforced (14). Renewable energy creation should be required within all new housing projects (7). Stiffen building regulations (17). Need to consider central heating for Dorset homes (3). The Local Plan is the way to ensure that new developments are built to the highest standards (7). We must cut through the ‘blame game’, in which government and local planning authorities blame each other for weakness in building regulations (7). The Council must vet all planning applications vis-à-vis climate and environmental targets; and should be pro-active to challenge central government policy re environmental standards (19).

Public engagement. The Council should take vigorous measures to engage and involve the public, for example by regular newsletters to every household; posters like WW2 ‘Dig for victory’. The need is for public education : “this is an emergency : major changes are coming : they will affect young people (under 65 !) severely : a huge response is needed” (2). Engage primary schools (5). We need to engage young people, particularly primary school age (14).

Social Justice. How can ‘social justice’ and ‘inter-generational fairness’ be included as major elements of the strategy? (2) Transport. A new Public Transport plan is needed (8,13). An active travel plan (10). More decentralisation of services, in order to reduce the need for travel (10). Priority for transport in rural areas (16). Does the council have the power to reduce speed limits? If so, it should do so as soon as possible. This will reduce CO2 immediately and persistently so that it will save lives for centuries to come. It will also result in fewer accidents and reduced loss of working hours (2). More cycle lanes (13, 14). Charging-point infrastructure for electric vehicles is needed (14).

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