Chamber update on climate change action | April 2021

We wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update on the Programme, the team and our current priorities. We hope that this update will be the first of many as we undergo one of the largest transformational programmes we will see in our lifetimes.

Date: Wednesday 28 April 2021

The Chamber Climate Change Group received a comprehensive overview from the Government Climate Change Transformation Team at their meeting.

Full presentation can be viewed here 

Click here for a full update on the action plan

1. Leadership on Climate Action

• The Climate Change Transformation Team in Cabinet Office is leading on climate change work, with the support of colleagues across Government and the wider community.

• DEFA continue to lead on the delivery of the Climate Change Bill, with assistance from the Climate Change Transformation Team and informed by the current work of the Climate Change Transformation Team and the work by the Climate Change Analytical Team that underpinned James Curran’s independent report.

• It should be noted that the climate change work since 2019 (the James Curran report, the Council of Minister Climate Action Plan and the Climate Change Bill) has been focussed on climate change mitigation (the reduction of emissions and increase in removals of greenhouse gases). Climate change adaptation work (adapting to climate change impacts already happening and preparing for future impacts of climate change) has been mainly led by DoI in the form of flood risk management, coastal defences and other infrastructure approaches, and to a lesser extent DEFA, through natural flood risk management approaches, landscape management and the protection and restoration of ecosystems which provide resilience to climate change. The Paris Agreement encompasses mitigation and adaptation, so in future more explicit links between the two will be needed.

• Professor James Curran remains involved in the Island’s net zero journey in his role as Special Advisor to the Climate Change Transformation Board, attending all Board meetings and advising on specialist areas requiring expert knowledge

2. Delivering the Council of Ministers’ Climate Action Plan: Phase 1

• In September 2020, the Climate Change Transformation Team was established in the Cabinet Office and now consists of 8 people.
• The team are working on the delivery of the Phase One Action Plan along with the research and development needed to inform the first statutory 5 year plan, as will be required by the Climate Change Bill. The team are also supporting the continuing progress of the Climate Change Bill, which is being led by DEFA officers.
• Highlights on delivery include:
• The 2021/22 budget allocation of an additional £10 million in funding to help deliver tangible climate action to reduce emissions and increase natural carbon sequestration (storage).
• Significant progress with our outreach programme across government and with the third sector to agree project charters and progress delivery

4. The Government estate

• The team are working on the best methodology to undertake Climate Impact Assessments across the Government estate and understand and communicate our carbon footprint
• Once the above is in place and we have the data to inform our decision making, we will work with the Government Estate Managers to identify the best buildings for clean energy generation, low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures which all reduce emissions and energy bills
• We will work with Treasury, who are undertaking an estate wide assessment of the government’s building portfolio, taking account of their energy efficiency and other factors, in their work to propose a future estate strategy.
• We’re working with Government to identify opportunities for renewable energy installations as and when buildings are undergoing remedial works (for example the replacement of roofs to incorporate Solar PV).
• Sections of the Heritage trail have been upgraded by DOI to make appropriate for cycling and walking and numerous dedicated cycle paths and walkways to enable active travel

5. Renewable Energy
• We launched and completed the PIN process for 20MW of on-Island renewables with 41 applications and 6 invitations to interview. This highlighted the overriding need to commission an energy strategy to create the roadmap for our future energy needs and supply to ensure a no-regrets decision was made
• We agreed and commissioned the development of the Future Energy Strategy, to present options on the most effective route to deliver 75% of renewable energy by 2035 and ultimately net zero by 2050.
• Work on the Future Energy Strategy is being delivered by a well-known UK energy consultancy and is now at an advanced stage and will be reporting on interim findings in the near future.
• This will be presented to Tynwald in this administration helping inform the best technologies which meet the energy trilemma of being a low cost to consumers, from a clean source whilst maintaining security of supply

6. Reducing emissions in the home
• We have been working with UCM on the skills needed across the Construction industry to ensure near net zero housing from 2025, identifying courses which will upskill Contractors
• The Transformation Board have agreed the principles behind a new, revised Green Living Grant which will allow up to 1200 home owners to retrofit their homes, making them more energy efficient and increasing the overall energy ratings whilst also installing renewable energy, EV charging points and low carbon heating systems – to be launched in June 2021.
• Work is about to commence on a renewable heating strategy to identify the roadmap to achieve the decarbonisation of heating systems which account for the largest proportion of our greenhouse gas emissions on the Island. The Island has 43,000 houses; 97% of which use oil and gas as the primary source of heating which will all need to be replaced before 2050.

7. Natural Carbon Capture
• A flagship peat restoration project has been agreed, funded (over £370,000) & has started with the first 1000 acres of restoration now underway. This will transform degraded areas of peat from a source of emissions back into one of our most important carbon sinks.
• The People’s Wood planting is well underway at Meary Veg.
• A new Woodland Grant scheme has been put together by DEFA to encourage tree planting across the Island and is currently under consultation.
• Revised agri-environment scheme about to begin, which will encourage the farming community to take measures that will increase carbon sequestration and support other ecosystem services, and potentially begin to reduce some of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural practices.
• A working group from across Government is working on the development of a specification for commissioning a comprehensive Land Management Plan. This plan will identify key opportunities and risks around land management for carbon sequestration and for emissions reduction and for climate change adaptation and resilience. This work will ensure that the important work to rapidly increase our natural carbon capture is carried out in a manner that maximises carbon sequestration and wider ecosystem benefits and doesn’t have unintended consequences that we will regret in future.
• DEFA has support an MNFU project undertaking trial Farm Carbon audits and considering the importance of soil integrity and biodiversity, which will help inform a sector action plan and the Land Management plan referred to in the previous point.
• Work on a marine carbon strategy to maximise blue carbon (the carbon stored in marine and coastal ecosystems) is well underway and builds on our network of 10 Marine Nature Reserves and inshore fisheries management zones. Blue carbon is an area where we believe the Island could become a global leader in innovative marine management for emissions reduction and blue carbon.
• Natural carbon capture work is already benefiting from the input of local expert organisations like Manx Wildlife Trust.

8. Transport
• We are preparing the briefing documents which will underpin the Surface Transport Strategy to provide the roadmap for us to achieve net zero surface transport by 2050
• DOI have purchased and are now operating 6 Hybrid buses.
• Marine drive consultation has commenced, regarding a dedicated cycle & foot path.

9. Public engagement and awareness

• Climate change awareness and education, and the engagement of the community are seen as top priorities in the climate change work and is an area we expect to accelerate.
• Capacity to deliver this part of the work has been the area of work most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the time of communications officers has been at a premium.
• Going forward there will be dedicated climate public engagement role which will transform the delivery of this area of work.
• The Citizens’ Forum was established in October 2020 and has been a great success. It has now met three times in person and once online.
• Feedback from the Forum is now making a significant impact on policy development. In fact the feedback from the forum members on improving energy efficiency in the home played a central part in the development of a proposed Green Living Grant – a revised incentivisation scheme we have been working on with the Climate Change Transformation Board
• The most recent Citizens’ Forum heard from expert speakers on energy production and then looked at renewable energy technologies, the need to balance the grid and the best potential mix for the Island.
We have commissioned a new Change and Engagement strategy with the help of UK behavioural change specialist consultants which will inform our public engagement activity to highlight and seek feedback regarding the work that Government is doing to get the Island to net zero and how they can turn support for climate issues into concrete action to reduce emissions.

9. Business & Economy

• Budget in Tynwald, which outlines a further £5m into each of the two funds, plus permanent revenue budget for the team.
• The Climate Change Transformation Team are working on a wide range of actions with local businesses, including exploring pilot projects related to reducing fossil fuel use and increasing the use of renewable energy and other low carbon solutions.
• Members of the business community are also actively engaged in the Citizens’ Forum.
• We are at the early stages of the creation of a local offsetting scheme whereby residents and businesses can offset their emissions via local nature based sequestration schemes

10. Climate Change Bill
• The Climate Change Bill had its third reading in the House of Keys on 9 February and has just had its first reading in Legislative council on 3 March. If it continues to proceed at pace through the Legislative Council, then we may be able to expect Royal Assent by June or July 2021.
• The Climate Change Bill makes our target for net zero greenhouse gases by 2050 a statutory one, provides a clear framework for climate change action planning and reporting on actions and on emissions and provides enabling legislation to ensure that key actions towards reducing emissions can be taken.
• The Climate Change Bill also gives public bodies a duty to deliver climate action and also to ensure the ecosystem services and biodiversity are effectively protected.

11. Extension of the Paris Agreement to the Isle of Man
• Officer from the Climate Change Transformation Team and the External Relations Team are currently in active discussions with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about the extension of the Paris Agreement to the Isle of Man.
• The Team are putting together the evidence of how the Isle of Man will be able to deliver the commitments in the Paris Agreement and what the implications will be for the Isle of Man.
• Once this work has been completed, formal agreement for the extension will be required from Council of Ministers and the UK Government will also have to approve the extension on the basis of our capacity to comply.

12. COP 26
• The Island is planning attendance at this year’s COP26 in November (subject to travel restrictions due to COVID), which will include a political delegation
• We intend to partner with an organisation in the UK Government’s ‘blue zone’ to highlight the Island’s commitment and pathway to net zero as well as our UNESCO Biosphere status

13. Research
• Analytical work is underway on the 5 year climate action plan which we expect to take to Tynwald in July 2021.
• Research into inspiring case studies on Government, business and individual climate action successes is underway.
• Key work to review and improve the baseline emissions and removals data that is reported to the UK.
• That baseline data will be important when monitoring progress towards the interim target to be set next year and ultimately our achievement of net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
• Research to underpin all the key strategies outlined above is underway.
• We are building on the extensive research that informed James Curran’s report in 2020 and will be communicating the research outputs more effectively going forward to give colleagues in Government, business and individuals the best possible information on which to make the right decisions about climate action.

Key officer contacts for the Climate Change Transformation Programme:

Richard Lole
Climate Change Transformation Director, Climate Change Transformation Team, Cabinet Office

Aly Lewin
Head of Programme Delivery
Climate Change Transformation Team
Cabinet Office
Key areas:
• Change & Engagement Strategy to deliver public engagement
• Phase One delivery actions
• Citizens’ Forum
• Energy Strategy (in conjunction with Ken Milne)
• COP26 (in conjunction with External Relations)
• Governance and programme office management

Fiona Gell
Head of Research and Development
Climate Change Transformation Team
Cabinet Office
Key areas:
• Extension of Paris Agreement
• Climate Change Bill (in conjunction with DEFA)
• Analytical work and baseline data
• Five year action plan
• Nature based carbon solutions, including natural carbon sequestration and blue carbon
• Biodiversity and the wider environmental issues