London Borough of Croydon

Winter 2019 to Spring 2020

The challenge

Croydon Council has a vision of making Croydon the greenest and most sustainable borough in London. In July 2019, the Leader of Croydon Council declared a climate emergency, with the council developing a target that the borough should become fully carbon neutral by 2030.
Taking action locally was a key part of this. And doing so relied on working with residents in a long-term sense, towards a vision which the whole borough could get onboard with.
With this in mind, the authority had already decided, at its Sustainable Croydon Summit earlier in 2019, to set up a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change. This would mean that the voice of residents across the borough could inform Croydon Council’s plans. TCC was commissioned to deliver this work, in late 2019 and early 2020.

What we did

Citizens’ Assemblies are a form of deliberative engagement. They give members of the public who are not already actively engaged in civic life the time and opportunity to learn about a topic, before reaching conclusions.
We ran the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change very much on the basis of building up collective understanding over time. We held a programme of three workshops, in January and February 2020, running from broader, more deliberative sessions to more action-focused groups with agreed outcomes. There were 42 attendees, drawn from across the borough, each of whom attended all three sessions.
The first session, ‘What climate change means for people in Croydon’, explored why climate change was an urgent issue and why it mattered in Croydon. The second session, ‘How we can tackle climate change in Croydon together’, explored the roles that individuals, communities and the Council could play. The third, ‘Taking action to tackle climate change’, agreed a final position statement on the issue.
Whilst resident led, we had experts on hand at the sessions, to support the debate and make sure participants had as much information as possible. As part of their discussions, Assembly members met key decision-makers from the council, including the Leader, Deputy Leader for Housing, Deputy Cabinet member for Clean and Green Croydon and the Deputy Cabinet member for Environment, transport and Regeneration.

What happened

After six weeks of deliberation, the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change arrived at a detailed, 22-point position statement about the borough’s role in relation to green issues. Members also reviewed and ranked a long-list of green policies, in a way that fed directly into how the council approached the issue. The Assembly revealed, for example, a clear preference for incentive-based actions rather than enforcement.

The overall process demonstrated that, if the issues are framed correctly – in a way that is accessible and relatable – then there is a real appetite for tackling climate change at an individual, community and borough-wide level.

The final report can be viewed here, and the position statement appears on pages 23-25.