RESEARCH FELLOW, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
A low-carbon heat strategy sets out at a high level a vision and key objectives, mapping details of the current and future heat system, and identifying key tools, policies, and actors. Creating such a strategy does not guarantee success in moving a city over from fossil fuel to low carbon heat. The how and when of making the strategy happen is essential – An actionable way forward must be specified and them implemented.
Our approach to city heat strategies establishes the current state of the heat system, explores the options for how it will need to change to achieve fossil-free heat and the core objectives of the cities and its citizens. Together these stakeholders select the preferred route, before presenting a clear route to how these will be delivered. This delivery plan will vary depending on the local context but, based on our work with cities and a review of existing strategies in other cities, this blog presents a set of relevant elements which should be considered when developing a delivery plan within a city heat strategy.
A Delivery Plan: An Action Plan with Governance
A delivery plan must include an action plan and establish the institutional governance to deliver the programme. The action plan sets out the key actions and assigns responsibility for their delivery; core features include the following:
Actions: These might be policy actions such as spatial planning regulation, engagement processes such as a neighbourhood co-creation exercise, or service provision such as retrofit information or co-ordination services. These actions might be broken down into key stages in the delivery process. All actions must be achievable within the legal, regulatory, financial and technical constraints in the territory where they are planned. These will vary considerably from city to city and country to country. They may also vary in specificity with near-term actions more highly specified than those further into the future. One action for SHIFFT is to consider good practice in financial and non-financial instruments, as well as technical options for adoption and the role of the public and particularly building users.
Actors: These are the organisations or individuals responsible for, or vital to, a particular activity. There is a real need to ensure all key stakeholders are represented in planning. It is likely that most of the actors handed responsibility for carrying out actions are within the public sector.
Timescales: Target completion or milestone dates for each activity.
Costs: Estimated costs for different activities, how these may develop over time, and how these will be met. These will link to the available resource in the particular city as well as the available technology.
Action plans also need to consider and outline interdependencies between actions as well as the degree and the nature of the reliance – whether these are simultaneous or sequential. Potential barriers or key uncertainties should be identified and responses to overcome or mitigate these proposed.
Finally, strategy-specific governance and processes must be established in order to deliver the heat transition. This will need to be grounded in an understanding of the existing local governance structure, from EU and national responsibilities down to the cities own governance framework. The strategic governance structure for the heat transition will include the local government, a number of interfaces with government departments as well as businesses and residents and a project team within the government. There may also be a steering group comprising experts, city management, and policymakers to monitor and guide progress on a regular basis. Specific responsibilities and roles for each structural element must be stipulated along with clear decision-making processes and spending sign-off to ensure effective project management, democratic oversight, and accountability. A process for monitoring and evaluation progress, along with contingency actions, is essential to ensuring timely delivery.