Newcastle experts join climate change panel

Dr Sara Walker, Director of the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, based at Newcastle University, and Dr Stephen Elstub, Reader in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, have joined the oversight panel for the North of Tyne Citizens’ Assembly on climate change.

Comprised of key stakeholders and independent experts, the Oversight Panel provides expertise to the North of Tyne Combined Authority to help in the delivery of the citizens’ assembly. The panel decides on the questions that the assembly will consider and agrees on which expert witnesses will be called to provide testimony to the assembly participants.

Sara is providing her expertise in the decarbonisation of energy and buildings and general climate change policy. She said: “I am looking forward to working with other members of the Oversight Panel for the North of Tyne Citizens Assembly on climate change. I will be contributing my expertise on energy to help ensure that the questions set for the assembly are appropriate.”

Stephen is an expert in public engagement through citizens’ assemblies and is providing his expertise in that. He said: “I’m delighted to be on the Oversight Panel for the North of Tyne Citizens’ Assembly on climate change. I’ll be drawing on lessons learnt from my research of other citizens’ assemblies to help ensure that it is a robust democratic and meaningful process.”

Dr Stephen Elstub
Citizens’ Assemblies differ from other forms of public engagement because their members are randomly-selected to form a representative sample of the population to consider an issue in depth and produce recommendations for decision-makers.

Fifty members of the public from Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland will be chosen to hear from expert witnesses and make policy recommendations for tackling climate change in the region.

North of Tyne is the first English region to run a Citizens’ Assembly on climate change. The assembly will examine a specific set of issues relating to climate change and produce recommendations for the North of Tyne Cabinet to consider.

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor, said: “The climate emergency is real and urgent. But we need to take people with us if we are to tackle it effectively.

“The Oversight Panel helps us to do this. We’ve got a broad mix of people on board: academics, activists, business, unions, volunteers, and our local authorities are all represented.

“We’re asking them to make our North of Tyne Citizens’ Assembly as good as it can be.”