A recent IPCC report has emphasized the urgency to act now in order to keep global warming at safe levels. While national greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets have been negotiated on an international basis over a time span of more than two decades, transregional commitments between cities, counties and federal states are now proving to be increasingly powerful subsidiary tools of climate governance.
Regional climate governance requires all local actors involved in climate change mitigation to coordinate and transfer knowledge on relevant issues, as well as to communicate progress, insights, challenges and demands to other regional and super-regional actors. Many regions, such as the City of Oxford and Oxfordshire as a whole, feature a complex network of educational institutions, local companies, local governments and private individuals that may have very different incentives and priorities when it comes to climate change mitigation.
As a result, climate change mitigation is frequently delayed, or even lost, due to a lack of local coordination, access to relevant expertise, political continuity or priority, or accountability, in particular with respect to local government or businesses.
As direct stakeholders in a possible climate catastrophe, young people are increasingly trying to build pressure on local decision makers to accelerate climate action. Common examples of these are Youth Strikes, lobbying efforts in educational institutions and street activism. However, senior decision makers often dismiss youth activism as unrealistic or immature, while young people frequently feel misunderstood and powerless.
The Oxford Climate Policy Forum is a cross-party initiative of young members of UK political parties that tries to bridge institutional, political and generational gaps by providing an independent platform where local actors, policymakers and domain experts within Oxfordshire can interact on a regular basis.
The cross-party nature of the Forum emphasizes the cross-party consensus among young politicians that climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time and requires urgent and ongoing attention by all political actors.
Cross-party coalitions of young politicians have a proven historical track record in driving change. At the same time, the Forum will equip the next generation of policymakers with the necessary skills and knowledge to shape the future of UK politics under the backdrop of climate change. All these aspects are facilitated by the Forum’s pledge to feed back directly to senior politicians and policy makers through both its cross-party roots and its senior advisory board.
The Forum’s operations seek to reflect both developments in transregional, as well as international governance. To this aim,
- The Forum will host regular meetings that bring together local actors, such as student and staff representatives from the city’s universities, local councillors and council administrative staff and others.
- The Forum will regularly compile and publicise minutes and press releases with a specific focus on local climate-related activities. Particular emphasis will be placed on issues of local governance and policy making.
- The Forum will host regular speaker events and debates on climate issues of both national and international interest.
The Forum aims to collaborate with and complement the operations of existing local societies and initiatives.
If successful, it is hoped that the Forum may serve as blueprint for the emergence of similar initiatives in other regions of the UK.
The Forum will initially be run as an unincorporated association, with a more suitable legal structure to be decided on over time.
The Forum’s Committee comprises two representatives per eligible party, where a party is eligible if it holds at least one seat on either Oxford City Council or Oxfordshire County Council.
Additional committee members can be co-opted.
The Forum Committee will adopt a formal constitution at its first official gathering.
The Advisory Board comprises of senior professionals willing to endorse the spirit and facilitate the operations of the Forum in a consultative manner.