Informed by the work of the UK Committee on Climate Change, the Southampton Climate Commission seeks to be an independent voice in the city, providing authoritative information on steps towards a low carbon, climate resilient future so as to inform policies and shape the actions of local stakeholders and decision makers. It will monitor progress towards meeting the city’s carbon reduction and nature-based targets and recommend actions to keep the city on track and advise on the assessment of the climate-related risks and adaptation opportunities in the city.

The Commission aims to foster collaboration on projects that result in measurable contributions towards meeting the city’s climate reduction and nature-based targets and the delivery of enhanced climate resilience, particularly in the area of flood risk. It will promote best practice in public engagement on climate change and its impacts in order to support robust decision-making.

The Commission will also act as a forum where organisations can exchange ideas, research findings, information and best practice on carbon reduction and climate resilience.


Working with partners, stakeholders and the community, the Southampton Climate Commission provides an inclusive, collective approach, in ensuring a just transition towards a low carbon and climate resilient future for everyone in the city.

  • To provide leadership in the city on climate change and sustainability.
  • To foster and support citizen engagement with climate change and sustainability.
  • To encourage progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
  • To promote resilience and adaptation to climate risks and impacts.
  • To ensure change in fair and inclusive way, so that the benefits are shared by all.
  • To promote sustainable actions, especially those that protect, restore, and enhance biodiversity

Local policy context

Southampton City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019, with the ambition of working being a net zero organisation by 2030 for scope 1 and 2 emissions. While the council is taking responsible for its own emissions, city wide urgent action is required to make our contribution to containing global temperature rises within 1.5C. Beyond this limit, there is a strong scientific consensus that there will be catastrophic consequences for both humanity and the natural world.

Comission scope

  • To promote leadership in the city on climate change and biodiversity loss, encouraging stakeholders to take effective action now, while maintaining a long term perspective;
  • To connect and mobilise local actors, promote partnership working and the co-production of climate and biodiversity action, and to extend the reach and capacity of local government, for example by working in partnership with the local Climate Assembly;
  • To promote inclusive processes that involve and empower local actors, support meaningful representation of different groups and work towards fair/legitimate outcomes, for example by centring the conversation around wellbeing rather than emissions reductions;
  • To build a sense of common ownership and shared responsibility, helping to turn an overwhelming challenge into practicable, deliverable activities;
  • To serve as an independent and trusted voice in the area, building climate/carbon literacy, acting as a critical friend and a focal point for information;
  • To be a positive voice, emphasising how climate and biodiversity action can be an opportunity to deliver on other social, economic and environmental objectives;
  • To strengthen the evidence base and commission, prepare, support and/or promote the adoption and delivery of local climate and biodiversity action plans;
  • To inform, guide, support and track progress towards appropriate local climate and nature-based targets and promote transparency;
  • To review current activities, celebrate successes and promote the replication/scaling up of different forms of best practice;
  • To provide neutral spaces for the review of different issues, and publish position papers on contentious issues to support informed, balanced debate;
  • To provide on-going, longer-term support for climate and biodiversity action that spans electoral cycles and variations in public awareness, business support etc

Southampton Climate Commission covers the geographic area of the unitary authority of Southampton City Council but will seek to learn from and partner with other regional and national bodies in order to achieve its aims. The Comission is NOT a place for marketing or lobbying, an attempt to take over Council responsibilities, a substitute for direct public representation or a body that directly designs or delivers programmes or projects.


Southampton Climate Commission aims to achieve the following deliverables:-

  • Improve understanding in evidence base by:
    • Establishing bottom up footprints for some of the largest impact sectors (or key businesses and organisations within these sectors) such as production, distribution, manufacturing, public services. This will support a greater understanding of the opportunities for carbon reduction in the areas with the biggest opportunities for change.
    • Work at sector-level to map largest carbon hotspots across business supply chains, to identify overlaps and opportunities for greatest reductions. This should identify opportunities for businesses and organisations to share resources in reducing emissions.
  • Establish priorities and shared carbon reduction targets for the city across appropriate sectors.
  • Introduce a Southampton Climate Action Plan that sets out the steps needed [by whom] to meet those targets and that enables capacities to be built, key barriers to be identified and removed and progress to be tracked;
  • Encourage all large organisations and businesses to support, the Southampton Climate Action Plan and the carbon reduction and nature-based targets /commitments and to report back on progress;
  • A bi-directional communication plan to promote a shared understanding amongst stakeholders in the city economy of the challenges and opportunities ahead. To disseminate the evidence base, raise awareness in the drivers for change, the progress being made and opportunities available to encourage participation and engagement. This should include detailed engagements with all social groups in the area to build a social license for transformative change and to ensure that people and places are not left behind.
  • An annual report detailing achievements and progress.


Membership of Southampton Climate Commission is open to individuals representing key organisations from the public, private and civic sectors across the city that can contribute to the promotion of a low carbon/biodiverse and/or climate resilient and nature positive economy/society within Southampton The balance of membership of the Commission reflects the need for cross-city representation and for the Commission to be able to address both climate mitigation and adaptation, and biodiversity loss. Prior to appointment, members must have ensured that their participation in the Commission has been authorised at a senior level within their organisation.

The Commission will seek to actively improve the diversity and representation of the Commission, e.g. young people, marginalised groups, representatives of the Global Majority.

The Commission will explore mechanisms for wider participation with the Commission and its work.

Members of Southampton Climate Commission are recruited periodically via an open process. Commissioners are appointed on the basis :-

  • That they are representative of a significant organisation or sector;
  • That they will engage with their organisation and sector to promote the work of SouthamptonClimate Commission;
  • That although some members will represent large organisations which can make a specific commitment, others may be able to represent their sector (eg housing / small businesses) but cannot make commitments on behalf of their sector;
  • That they can deliver useful, accurate and timely data to Southampton Climate Commission;
  • That they can demonstrate expertise, knowledge, leadership and skills to contribute usefully to the expert work of Southampton Climate Commission;
  • That they can commit the required amount of time to Southampton Climate Commission;
  • That they have access to good networks and connections that will add value to Southampton Climate Commission;
  • That they are available to attend Commission meetings. Alternate representatives would not usually be allowed to attend. If a member is absent for three meetings in succession, membership will be reviewed and may be revoked.


Southampton Climate Commission was formally established in November 2022.

Southampton Climate Commission is an independent advisory body, chaired initially by Steve Guppy (SCC) with Melanie Robertson (SCC) providing the secretariat. Prof. Bakr Bahaj (UoS) will be the Vice-Chair, to be reviewed on an annual basis (November). Nominations to be put forward and a vote taken where more than one nomination is received.

In order to ensure accountability and scrutiny of the work of the Commission and hence provide an opportunity to report the progress that is being made by all sectors and partners towards the city’s carbon reduction target, Southampton Climate Commission will report progress on an annual basis to Southampton City Council and others as appropriate.

Southampton Climate Commission is made up of a Commission comprising a Chair, Vice-Chair and 20 other representatives appointed to it from across the public, private and third sectors in the city. The Commission will meet at least 4 times per year:

  • To oversee a programme of Deliverables;
  • To take an overview of initiatives, projects and activities to ensure co-ordination, reduce duplication and foster synergy between projects;
  • To act as a problem-solving forum;
  • To agree, communicate and publish advice on meeting carbon reduction and biodiversity targets;

 At each Commission meeting, the Chair, or in his / her absence, the Vice Chair, shall preside. A Commission meeting will be quorate if either the Chair or Vice Chair as well as 10 members are present.

Decisions within Southampton Climate Commission will be made jointly with a preference for a consensus-based approach to decision-making. If a vote is taken, each member of Southampton Climate Commission will be entitled to one vote, with a two-thirds majority being required.

The Commission may establish Panels to focus on particular topics and deliverables. Panels may operate flexibly in response to the needs of the topic (i.e. it is not anticipated that they will work as conventional working groups with regular meetings, but have a mixture of activities responding to the needs of the topic and/or the deliverable). To ensure appropriate accountability Panels will have a minimum of two meetings a year and will be made up of around 5 people, two of whom will be co-chairs and one of whom should be drawn from the Commission.


The following principles are proposed within which Southampton Climate Commission is expected to operate:-

  • No party has a monopoly on best practice, initiative or solution
  • All information is shared openly where possible
  • Problems are solved jointly
  • Innovative proposals are positively received and reviewed
  • Working relationships are friendly
  • Wherever possible risks are shared
  • Work is delivered to the highest standards of quality

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