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Tackling the climate & ecological emergency together

Dorset Peoples Assemblies on Climate Emergency

Dorset Council declared a climate emergency in May 2019 and have spent the past 18 months gathering “facts” and writing a strategy and action plan.

Dorset Council recognise that global warming, climate change and species loss is real. In their strategy they state, “we have only 8-10 years at the current rate, within which serious action is required to avert this crisis and avoid the worst impacts.”

Dorset Council believes we have less than a decade to drastically reduce our carbon emissions and prevent further wildlife loss. However, the strategy and action plan works to a 20 year timeframe to become a net zero carbon Council, and 30 years to be a net zero carbon county. There is a disconnect between what Dorset Council say and what they intend to do.

Dorset Council’s Public Consultation on the strategy and action plan closed on 20th January 2021.

The Assemblies

In November and early December we held six People’s Assemblies to provide an opportunity for you to talk with other people across Dorset about the emergency and Dorset Council’s response to it.

The consultation was our chance to tell the Council what we think of the action plan. Those who attended the assemblies considered these questions:

  • Does it reflect the urgency they say is needed?
  • Is this an emergency response that will keep us our communities and our environment safe and secure?
  • What’s missing?

If you are unsure about the effects of the climate and ecological emergency, or want to know more about the facts and the science, this video might be useful: Climate & Ecological Emergency: What’s the Urgency?

What happens after the Assemblies?

During the Assemblies we collected everyone's comments, opinions, ideas, fears, and questions. These were all put together and submitted to the Dorset Council consultation process, on behalf of the Assembly participants. This means that everyone's contribution has been heard by the Council. Here is a link to the submission that was made on behalf of the Assembly participants: click here to download Climate Consultation Submission

You can still join us and lend your voice to this historical consultation by signing the Dorset Climate Action Network petition calling on Dorset Council to reset their carbon net zero target from 2040 to 2030. See column on the right.

The People’s Assemblies were organised, facilitated and supported by a number of groups in Dorset including; 

Dorset Climate Action Network
Transition Towns Network
Sustainable Dorset
Friends of the Earth East Dorset
Planet Purbeck
Planet Shaftesbury
Extinction Rebellion
South Coast Progressives
Portland 4 the Planet

Dorchester Churches' Ecology Group

Now the formal consultation has closed, consideration will be given to all the submissions. Any revisions will go to a meeting of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Executive Advisory Panel. A final draft will then go to Dorset Council Cabinet before it is sent to full Council for approval. We understand it will go to full Council in April. WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED.

Thank you to all those who attended one of the Assemblies. They were lively, energetic, full of ideas. As well as expressing collective and individual concerns on the climate and ecological emergency.



Help Make Dorset Council Carbon Neutral by 2030

Climate and Ecological Emergency Dorset

Dorset CAN (Climate Action Network) in partnership with Planet Purbeck started this petition to Dorset Council (Ray Bryan)


You’ll probably have heard about Climate Change.  Sir David Attenborough said “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years… Climate Change”.

But did you know Dorset Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) in 2019, and have recently consulted on their Strategy?

We want Dorset Council to lead the way by applying themselves to this problem with the scale and urgency it requires.  We want them to change their carbon zero target from 2040 to 2030.  You can send a clear message by signing this petition NOW! We will keep the petition live. At the point when the formal Climate Strategy consultation closed on 20 January we did do a submission saying how many had signed up to that point.

The Council are to be applauded for all their work in producing their draft Strategy and Action Plans as they are, but does the current target of carbon neutral by 2040 reflect an EMERGENCY?

We believe the strategy needs to be more ambitious.  Let's aim for Carbon Negative not zero, strive for Nature Recovery and, most importantly, change the target for Dorset Council to be Carbon Neutral to 2030.  Dorset Council should work with the government, businesses, organisations, communities and individuals for them to achieve a target of 2030 too.

Please join us in asking Dorset Council to take up this challenge!

Just a few of the comments made at the Assemblies on the proposed draft targets in the Dorset Council Strategy and Action Plan:

  • I am terrified for the future, I fear that we will tip past 1.5 degrees within the next 7-10 years. I do not see Governments acting quick enough or appropriately enough. Covid was the perfect opportunity to push the system changes and they seem to be letting it slip. The time is now, we must act now, let’s start today.
  • The 2050 target for carbon zero is obviously compete inadequate. Compare Dorset with other UK local authorities
  • We are running out of time, I'm concerned that we will leave tackling the emergency until the 11th hour. We need a covid-like response, where we ask people to take this seriously, and where everyone understands what is at stake, AND that we CAN solve this, but time is short
  • Dorset Council’s aspirations should be to become climate positive - not just Net Zero. And the timescale is not ambitious enough…

People's Assembly in February 2020 discussing Climate Action ideas to submit to the council

Climate Assembly participants at an assembly in February 2020.  Coming up with climate ideas to submit to Dorset Council. 

At the start of each climate assembly those present were asked to give three words to describe how they were feeling about the climate and ecological emergency.  From this we produced ‘word clouds’ to reflect the collective feelings.  The ‘before’ and ‘after’ clouds below illustrate how feelings changed from ANXIOUS to HOPE as a result of participating in the assemblies.  Becoming more positive and energised about tackling the emergency as a result of being able to talk about it, share their feelings and take support from others

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