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Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Meeting 22nd September

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group Minutes 22nd September. Download a PDF of the minutes here.


  • Phil Norrey | Devon County Council (Chair)
  • Doug Eltham | Devon County Council
  • Ellie Rowlands | Devon Climate Emergency
  • Alex Gandy | Dartmoor National Park Authority
  • Emily Reed | Devon Climate Emergency
  • Harry Barton | Devon Wildlife Trust
  • Clare Reid | Exmoor National Park Authority
  • Michael Titchford | North Devon District Council
  • Sara Gibbs | Public Health Devon
  • Andrew Butler | National Farmers’ Union
  • David Eaton | Teignbridge District Council
  • Jodie Wyatt | Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Harriet Googe | Environment Agency
  • Tom Dauben | Environment Agency
  • Melanie Sealey | Devon County Council


  • Emily Bullock | South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dan Ulanowsky | Pennon Group
  • David Edmondson | Torbay Council
  • Janet Williams  | Torridge District Council
  • Emma Page | University of Exeter
  • Helen Dobby | Environment Agency
  • Ken Miles | North Devon District Council
  • David Ralph | Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were AGREED as a true record of the discussion.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1. Project Management Update

Ellie Rowlands and Doug Eltham provided an update reflecting Section 1 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes.


A series of webinars are being planned to accompany the launch of the Devon Carbon Plan on themed topics and with specific groups. Consultation questions are being developed, which will include asking for opinion on the issues that should be discussed by the citizens’ assembly.

2.1. Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 these minutes.

In addition, Emily was able to advise that the procurement of the recommendations on the operation of a digital citizens’ assembly has been awarded to the University of Exeter and that a timescale for the completion of the work is being discussed.

Emily reiterated that the 28th October meeting of the Response Group will be an opportunity to discuss any showstoppers that appear in the early draft of the Interim Devon Carbon Plan, which partners will receive in the first week of October. Some members of the Net Zero Task Force will join the Response Group for that meeting. Emily reported that the Economy and Society Research Council part-funded project into the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement in the Devon Climate Emergency project is progressing. Anonymous interviews with Response Group members are nearing their conclusion and interviews with wider stakeholders are scheduled next.

2.3. Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report at Annexe 1 of these minutes. Doug Eltham thanked the Environment Agency for making national resource available to push the work forward, which reflects the transferability of the work being undertaken here in the south west to other regions.

3. Influencing a Green Covid-19 Reset

Doug Eltham advised that he and Tim Jones of the Net-Zero Task Force had attended the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board on the 18th September with Somerset County Council to share progress and discuss regional investment priorities.

ACTION: Doug to share the investment priorities with the Group.

Melanie Sealey reported that the Team Devon activity over the summer has been responding to the Getting Britain Building funding with the LEP and prioritising the projects within the Economy and Business Recovery Prospectus. The full report to accompany the prospectus has been delayed whilst this focus on funding opportunities has occurred.

Sara Gibbs noted that the COVID Recovery Partnership Group is exploring Doughnut Economics with the DCC Economy and Enterprise service.

4. Timeline for Net-Zero 

Doug Eltham introduced the paper presented at Appendix 2 of these minutes, outlining the earliest credible date for Devon to achieve net-zero as proposed by the Net-Zero Task Force. Doug noted that whilst the Task Force has proposed an evidenced timetable for Net-Zero, it may be that the organisations on the DCERG will want to see the Interim Devon Carbon Plan aim to achieve net-zero sooner, which can be fed back ahead of the public consultation in December.

Harry Barton commented that the Group shouldn’t forget that the organisations involved are much wider than the local authorities and the national park authorities and collectively we can “keep our foot to the pedal” by ensuring we achieve net-zero within our organisations by at least 2030 and encourage all Devon-based organisations to do the same. The Group AGREED with this.

ACTION: Emily Reed to incorporate this action into the Interim Carbon Plan.

ACTION: Non local-authority members to send Doug their corporate net-zero targets to add to the report and the website please. Doug will update the report accordingly.

Michael Titchford and Sara Gibbs said that whilst achieving net-zero ahead of the national timetable is very challenging, we should keep the pressure on government to act and indeed bring forward the national target. So, whilst at the moment it makes sense for the Devon target to be 2050 to align with the national target, we must make clear our ambition for this to be earlier. The Group AGREED with this.

ACTION: Emily Reed to ensure the language of the target makes clear the ambition for achieving net-zero earlier with national government support.

Andrew Butler reminded the Group that the farming industry has set an ambitious target of 2040 as the date to achieve net-zero, but that it is clear that we can only do this with the support from supply chains and the right policy signals from Government.

The Group AGREED the recommendation in the paper.

ACTION: All partners to:

  • Discuss this paper with elected members and relevant colleagues over the next month and provide concise feedback to Doug Eltham by the 22nd October.
  • Attend the next Response Group meeting on the 28th October with the intention of reaching agreement on the net-zero timetable that will appear in the consultation draft Interim Devon Carbon Plan. Doug will circulate a summary of your feedback ahead of that meeting so that partners’ starting points for the discussion are known.
  • Recognise that as a partnership we need to reach a consensus on a timetable that is palatable to all organisations.

5. Planning White Paper Consultation Response

Doug Eltham shared a draft Devon Climate Emergency response to the Planning White Paper.

Harry Barton commented that the proposal in the consultation response for a fourth zone for wildlife/nature was supported. Michael Titchford and Claire Reid agreed so long as the zone didn’t mean that development proposals in areas of countryside not part of the zone wouldn’t need to consider wildlife recovery.

Harry further commented that the White Paper’s proposals on the amendments to environmental assessment is seen by the Devon Wildlife Trust as a weakening of safeguards, and the consultation response should raise this. Phil Norrey agreed.

Phil Norrey asked for the ambition of the opening paragraphs of the consultation response to be more bullish.

ACTION: All partners to Provide feedback to Doug Eltham on the draft consultation response by the 16th October.

ACTION: Doug to finalise and submit the DCE response.

6. Any Other Business

Tom Dauben raised the new £200m Innovative Resilience Fund for areas at risk of flooding to test and demonstrate innovative actions to adapt to a changing climate and improve their resilience. The Group AGREED that the Devon Climate Emergency partnership should be referenced in any local bids to demonstrate the strength of ambition and collaboration on climate resilience issues in the county.

Andrew Butler mentioned the NFU’s Farmvention project. This is a national STEM competition run by NFU Education and aimed at children aged 5 – 14 (school years 1-9) in England and Wales. This year, the challenge is all about the problems that climate change creates for British farmers and how they are fighting it to become Climate Superheroes.

ACTION: Ellie Rowlands to share Farmvention with the Devon County Council Waste Education Team so that it can be included in the next schools’ Sustainability Bulletin.

Dan Ulanowsky reported by email that the Water UK Net Zero Route Map has been delayed until October for publication.

7. Next Meeting

Next meeting is the 28th October, 12:30.

Appendix 1 – Project Progress Report

Period: Aug – Sept 2020

Status Indicator key:

Red = Serious issue that requires Response Group intervention;

Amber = Minor issue that will initially be managed by the secretariat, but the Response Group should be aware;

Green = No issue.

1. Project Management Update

1.1. Activity Over the Past Month

Project Communications  

Website is still on track to be launched end of September.
Social media and website content has been developed about the projects that partner organisations are already implementing.
Recycle Devon are launching a textiles campaign in September which will be joint branded with DCE to try and reach a wider audience.
Covid Reset

Tim Jones, a member of the Net-Zero Task Force, met with the HotSW LEP Board by the invitation of David Ralph, the LEP Chief Executive, on the 18th September.
The Cosy Devon partnership submitted a DCE-wide application to the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme on the 1st September.  This is a £1.2m bid to retrofit 100 homes by 31st March 2020.
Devon Solar Together has launched inviting households to participate in a solar panel buying collective. This has been promoted widely on social media and households likely to engage will receive a targeted letter.

1.2. Activity Expected Next Month

Project Communications

  • Development of ‘Website Phase 2’ will be completed.
  • Further social media content around the upcoming Interim Devon Carbon Plan will be developed and shared
  • Recycle Devon textiles campaign will have launched.

Covid Reset

  • A full report on the Economy and Business Recovery to accompany the Team Devon COVID Prospectus was due to be completed in August but that has been delayed until September.

2. Net-Zero Task Force Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To use its specialist knowledge and experience to produce an evidence-led Devon Carbon Plan, including consideration of the earliest credible date that should be set for net-zero emissions.

2.1. Activity Over the Past Month

Citizens’ Assembly

The procurement process for the research and advice on the effectiveness of online deliberations is concluding.
This work will hopefully complete in September, but the procurement may delay this by a couple of weeks.
Developing the Carbon Plan  

In-depth meetings with each of the project partners and the secretariat have now completed.
The Task Force continues to synthesise the key actions for the Interim Carbon Plan.
All sections of the Plan are drafted and are with the Task Force for comment. Critical path diagrams of the actions for each section are now being prepared by Exeter University.
This does put this stage about 2 weeks behind schedule, but this does not raise concern at the present time as there are opportunities to catch up in the coming months.

2.2. Activity Expected Next Month

Citizens’ Assembly

  • The research on the effectiveness of online deliberation will have commenced, with the final report expected by early October.  

Developing the Carbon Plan

  • Critical path diagrams will be completed.
  • Drafting of the Carbon Plan text will continue.
  • Partners will receive an early draft of the Interim Carbon Plan on 5th October. Partners will have one month to raise issues of substantial concern that need resolving ahead of the public consultation.

3. Climate Impacts Group Update

Role from its Terms of Reference: To work collaboratively with the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly climate emergency projects operating in each of the three localities to use its expertise to help:

  • prepare communities for the necessary adaptations to infrastructure, services and behaviours that will be required to respond to a warmer world.
  • improve the resilience of the natural environment against the effects of climate change

3.1. Activity Over the Past Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change  

Narratives on flood and coastal risk and the natural environment are largely complete.
The narrative on health has been drafted and is being shared with Public Health England for comment.
The Group is speaking with Rebecca Mitchell at Exeter University to understand her capacity to help with social and economic risks.
The Environment Agency has kindly made national resource available to bring all of the risks identified in the narrative documents into one single register and cross-reference with the national climate risk register to check for omissions in our local analysis.

3.2. Activity Expected Next Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change

Hopefully Exeter University will begin its commentary on wider social and economic issues.

The Environment Agency will begin compiling the local climate risk register.

4. Summary Comments

The Devon Carbon Plan continues to be in a phase of assembling and writing the Plan ahead of sharing with the partners as an early draft from October 5th.

Helen Dobby has secured resource from the Environment Agency to help The Climate Impacts Group progress its narratives into a risk register. The next stage will be a gap analysis to understand how prepared the region is for the identified risks. 

As a whole, the project is continuing to make progress as expected.

Appendix 2 – Net-Zero Timeline

1. Background

The Devon Climate Emergency (DCE) partners expect that the Devon Carbon Plan will indicate the earliest credible date for achieving a net-zero Devon, based on evidence, which the partners, particularly the local authorities, can collectively support.

2. Purpose

This paper outlines the Task Force’s conclusion on the timeline to net-zero that is proposed to appear in the consultation draft Interim Devon Carbon Plan. Its content is for discussion by the Tactical Group and Response Group.

The Response Group can accept the Task Force’s conclusions or request a faster net-zero timetable for consultation.

3. Recommendation

It is recommended that Response Group partners:

  • Discuss this paper with elected members and relevant colleagues over the next month and provide concise feedback to Doug Eltham by the 22nd October.
  • Attend the next Response Group meeting on the 28th October with the intention of reaching agreement on the net-zero timetable that will appear in the consultation draft Interim Devon Carbon Plan. Doug will circulate a summary of your feedback ahead of that meeting so that partners’ starting points for the discussion are known.
  • Recognise that as a partnership we need to reach a consensus on a timetable that is palatable to all organisations.

4. Context

The UK has declared and enshrined in law a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 – the first major economy to do so.

The thirteen local authorities in the DCE partnership have declared these dates for net-zero:

AuthorityGeography DateOrganisation date
Exmoor National Park2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels2030
North Devon District Council2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels?
Torridge District Council2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels?
South Hams District Council2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels2030
West Devon Borough Council2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels2030
East Devon District Council2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels2040
Devon County Council2050 at the latest and 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels2030
Dartmoor National Park2045 at the latest2025
Exeter City Council20302030
Mid Devon District Council20302030
Plymouth City Council20302030
Torbay Council20302030
Teignbridge District Council20152025

Many of the non local-authority partners have also set targets for achieving net-zero organisations on similar timescales. This paper will be updated with organisational commitments over the coming weeks.

5. The Climate Science

The 2018 IPCC report, Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees, is clear that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, globally, provides a 50% chance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Achieving net-zero sooner improves that chance.

Message: We should achieve net-zero as soon as possible

6. The Technical Evidence

The Centre for Alternative Technology report, Zero Carbon Britain, describes a scenario using existing technology that could achieve net-zero emissions by 2030. However, it states:

“Without national-scale, systematic transition in place, time is now very tight. 2030 remains a valid target from the perspective of climate science, but we must recognise that this is now becoming a hugely challenging delivery timeline”

Message: The technology exists now to achieve net-zero production emissions, but deep, systematic change is required to implement it, much of which is not in the control of local partners.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report, Net Zero, recommended to Government a UK target of net-zero by 2050 as “the earliest credible date”, which Government has accepted. The potential costs are up to 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, which is cost-effective against the potential impacts of climate change. Their scenario avoids punitive measures and capital scrappage. It states:

“A UK net-zero GHG target in 2050 is feasible, but will only be deliverable with a major strengthening and acceleration of policy effort”

Message: To achieve a just and cost-effective transition to net-zero, 2050 is the earliest credible date that has been modelled for the UK.

The Net-Zero Devon, Plymouth and Torbay report produced by the Centre for Energy and the Environment off the back of the CCC report identifies the net cost (sum of costs minus benefits) to achieve net zero in 2050 to be £895 million per year. This equates to 1.5% of the area’s GDP and £661 per resident per year. Achieving the CCC 2050 scenario by 2030 would in effect require compressing the same measures into a timeframe that is only about a third as long. The costs to meet the target by 2030 increases the estimated annual net cost to Devon to about £2,522 million per year (6.7% of the area’s GDP) and £1,992 per resident per year.

Message: 2030 would be costly to Devon’s economy and communities if other UK and international regions do not do the same.

The UK economy will still be emitting greenhouse gases beyond 2050, but various carbon offsetting schemes will operate nationally to net-off those emissions to zero. Assuming that national policy remains focussed on 2050, for Devon to achieve net-zero ahead of 2050, Devon’s emissions will need to be offset using local schemes. Devon’s emissions are attributable to individuals and organisations operating in, and visiting, Devon. There is no mechanism that would force these emitters to buy carbon offsets ahead of 2050, and indeed if there were, these emitters might move away from Devon, or visit other areas of the UK, that do not require them to pay to offset their emissions. In the year 2030, Devon’s forecasted residual emissions under the CCC scenario would cost the economy approximately £575m to offset at £50 per tonne of carbon dioxide. This, combined with the £658m per year for technological measures to reduce residual emissions referenced above, means a total cost each year of £1,233 million, or 4.7% of Devon’s GDP. Furthermore, using tree planting as the carbon offset opportunity, there is not enough land available in Devon to offset Devon’s projected residual emissions between 2030 and 2050 and so investments would need to occur elsewhere in the UK and most likely internationally.

Message: Achieving net-zero emissions ahead of UK policy is highly problematic, costly and not feasible within Devon’s borders.

7. Proposal

The Task Force’s recommendation that is proposed to appear in the consultation draft Interim Devon Carbon Plan is:

  • 2050 as the target for net-zero carbon
  • Interim carbon budgets for Devon set for years 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15 years based on the CCC scenario, incorporating a 45% reduction of 2010 emission by 2030.
  • The Plan needs to be front loaded with impactful actions to support the partners that have set 2030 as their net-zero targets.
  • Trigger points to fundamentally revise the plan must be included, particularly where reductions are not moving at the required pace, or where international targets are amended.

The Plan would also need to state that partners should endeavour to achieve net-zero sooner and exceed these targets if possible, particularly supporting with a collaborative spirit the five local authorities that have earlier ambitions.

8. Summary

Five of the 13 local authorities in the DCE partnership have set net-zero targets of 2030 or sooner for their geography. Seven have accepted the IPCC recommendations, pending different advice from the Net-Zero Task Force. One has set 2045.

The net-zero target of 2050 with 45% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels, as proposed by the IPCC, will require unprecedented social change. 2030 is technically possible but even its advocates acknowledge how challenging it would be.

The UK Government has amended the Climate Change Act to embed the target of net-zero by 2050, which is world leading. It would be highly problematic to achieve net-zero in Devon ahead of the UK timeframe as Devon’s emissions are dependent on national policy initiatives.

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