In May 2019, the Devon Climate Emergency (DCE) partnership formed to respond to the climate and ecological emergency. Its partners represent public bodies, private sector interests, environmental organisations and academic institutions. Within the partnership, and this Plan, Devon refers to the areas administered by Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council (see Figure 2.1).
Initially the partnership prepared the Devon Climate Declaration which has resulted in a shared commitment to engage Devon’s residents, businesses and visitors to develop and implement a plan to facilitate the reduction of Devon’s emissions to net-zero. In addition, a separate Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Adaptation Plan, currently in development, will help prepare communities to live in a warmer and more resilient world.
As well as their contributions to the development of this Plan, DCE partners have been delivering immediate initiatives that are accelerating the reduction of Devon’s carbon emissions. These include hiring new staff, creating a Nature Recovery Network, developing the Devon Food Partnership, building solar farms, installing electric vehicle charge points, and delivering a bulk-purchase scheme for domestic solar panels. Also, many partners have already developed carbon plans to reduce their in-house emissions from their buildings, vehicle fleets and supply chains.
2.2 Purpose of this Plan
This Plan describes the changes needed to achieve net-zero emissions in Devon.
‘Net-zero’ emissions means that any remaining emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) will be balanced by removals from the atmosphere.1
It introduces goals to overcome the barriers, followed by actions to make them happen.
Whilst the DCE partners will need to lead many of the actions, this is a Plan for everybody in Devon. Delivering net-zero will require all sectors of Devon’s society to do their bit – every organisation and community have their own sphere of influence, capacity, know-how and opportunities to contribute to achieving the Plan’s goals – and that’s why the partners have been keen to offer opportunities for people to be involved in creating it. The Devon Carbon Plan has been co-produced using expert knowledge with the local experiences of Devon’s citizens (see Section 2.3).
2.3 How the Plan was Produced
2.3.1 The Net-Zero Task Force
The partnership convened a Net-Zero Task Force of 15 volunteer specialists in topics relevant to carbon reduction to steer the creation of this Devon Carbon Plan. They are drawn from business, community, environmental and academic organisations.
It is chaired by Professor Patrick Devine-Wright, at the University of Exeter and a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change author.
The partners are extremely grateful to the Task Force for the considerable time they have committed and the energy and challenge they have brought to the process.
2.3.2 Call for Evidence
A public call for evidence ran from October 2019 until January 2020 requesting ideas on how to achieve net-zero. There were 893 submissions, all of which were reviewed by the Net-Zero Task Force. You can view summaries of the submissions split by theme.
2.3.3 Thematic Hearings
Six half-day thematic hearings (meetings) ran during November and December 2019. The meetings gathered experts to contribute their thoughts on the barriers to reaching net-zero and what actions are necessary to overcome them. Each hearing focused on different parts of our society. The full hearings and summary documents can be viewed here.
2.3.4 Youth Parliament
On the 29th November 2019, the Devon Youth Parliament hosted a climate summit attended by 75 students from 15 primary and secondary schools. This gathered their ideas about how Devon and their schools could become net-zero.
2.3.5 Devon Climate Assembly
The initial expectation was to publish a single version of the Devon Carbon Plan following an opportunity for the more controversial issues for achieving net-zero to have been considered by a Devon Climate Assembly – a 70-strong panel of residents selected in order to be representative of Devon.
However, the Assembly was cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions and so a new approach was needed. Instead, an Interim Carbon Plan was published for consultation which contained actions that are less difficult to deliver and are more publicly acceptable. This enabled the partners to start accelerating delivery together during the COVID-19 pandemic. The consultation was open for 10 weeks from the 7th December 2020. It received 1,322 responses which have been summarised in a Consultation Report.
Subsequently, the more challenging issues for achieving net-zero in Devon, were considered by the Assembly in summer 2021. A description of how the Assembly was designed, how it operated and what it recommended is online. Subsequently, the partners developed responses to the Assembly’s recommendations and consulted on these with the public in Spring 2022. The findings of the consultations and the recommendations from the Assembly have been used to inform this updated Plan.
2.4 The Plan’s Approach
Each themed section of this Plan:
- Describes what needs to happen in Devon to achieve the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) Further Ambition Scenario for net-zero by 2050 – irrespective of the current legislative or financing environment. Note – the CCC has developed an updated scenario called the Balanced Pathway, which will be incorporated into this Plan at a later update.
- Displays the trajectory of production emissions to 2050. These CCC-based trajectories were apportioned to Devon, including Plymouth and Torbay, by the University of Exeter. The methodology is available online. (See Section 3.2 for an explanation of production emissions).
- Introduces a set of goals which need to be realised to overcome barriers to achieving the CCC net-zero scenario, identified from the Thematic Hearings and the public Call for Evidence.
- Proposes strategic-level actions to achieve the goals, identified by specialists, the public and the members of the Devon Climate Assembly. These are split into two categories – those that can be implemented locally and those that need action beyond Devon, generally by relevant organisations in Devon working with government on specific issues.
It has not been possible to calculate the effect of each action on Devon’s GHG emissions to produce a ‘bottom up’ emissions trajectory. To do this would require assumptions to be made about the uptake and impact of each action, many of which are enabling actions, rather than actions that directly reduce emissions. For example, installing electric vehicle charging points doesn’t reduce GHG emissions; the GHG emissions reductions arise from people subsequently feeling more confident in making the decision to switch to an electric vehicle.
All of the actions are collated in the Action Table that gives each action a prioritisation score and adds detail about who is most likely to help deliver each action, when it should happen, where the action should take place and the anticipated financial status.
Many of the resources required to deliver this Plan are yet to be identified and secured. Whilst the partners will need to be innovative in finding facilitation funding, the CCC expects the net-zero transition to be largely funded and delivered by private companies and individuals. For this to happen Devon needs to work towards developing self-financing models to provide investable and attractive opportunities.
2.5 How to Use the Plan
There’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved – no single organisation or group of organisations can make Devon net-zero.
Individuals reading this Plan can take a look at the Quick Read version, which translates the goals and strategic actions into activities that are more relevant to our everyday lives.
Organisations and communities are encouraged to join with the partners in reviewing the goals and actions to decide which are most relevant to their responsibilities and areas of influence and use these to create their own climate change action plan. Activity can be shared with the partnership and showcased on the website and the monthly newsletter via firstname.lastname@example.org, or find the Devon Climate Emergency on social media.
2.6 The Plan’s Principles
In developing the Plan, the following principles have been applied. Many of these principles are based on key messages the Net-Zero Task Force heard in the Call for Evidence and the Thematic Hearings. These principles must also be considered when implementing each action.
- Achieving net-zero is not optional, it is essential.
- The role of this Plan is to map out all of the change needed, even if some are not possible yet.
- The Plan needs to reflect the specific qualities and characteristics of Devon in planning for net-zero.
- Although this is a Plan for Devon, it also seeks common cause with other areas of the country facing similar challenges to reach net-zero, and will seek to work with them to make finding the right solutions more efficient and effective.
- All actions must deliver carbon reductions across their life cycle; cradle to grave.
- Multiple benefits for health, well-being and resilience of communities and nature must be delivered.
- The term ‘emergency’ should have due consideration given to it. Any activities incompatible with the net-zero target must be reconsidered.
- The implementation of the plan must be democratic and involve communities, so not ‘done to’ people.
- A just and affordable transition is required to ensure that:
- Vulnerable and low-income segments of society and rural communities are not disadvantaged.
- The differing impacts of climate change on different groups e.g. disabled, minorities, gender, are addressed.
- Actions to decarbonise Devon must not be at the expense of other communities or ecology globally.
- Significant behaviour change must be recognised as a necessity.
- We must reframe our local economy to move beyond using growth as the single measure of success.
- The Plan must recognise the varying geography of Devon, including the importance of linkage and networks.
- Spatial planning has a clear role to reorganise society towards net-zero living:
- Ensuring that new development strongly contributes to the transformation required to achieve Net-Zero.
- The importance of ‘place’ and people’s connection to a location has to be a priority in all future development.
- Spatial planning and transport planning need to be better linked. Relocalisation should be an organising principle wherever it can assist achieving net-zero.
- A net-zero Devon needs to recognise the importance of rural areas in delivering net-zero not only for their communities, but also the growing importance of the resources and services they provide for larger towns and cities, including ecosystem services. Therefore, a more balanced emphasis is required between spatial planning for urban and rural areas.
- Resources, energy, and mobility, should be considered in a hierarchy:
- Avoid where possible, reduce resource and energy consumption and the need to travel
- Improve the efficiency of our use of resources and energy, e.g. reusing, recycling, insulating buildings and active and shared travel modes
- Use renewable and low-carbon resources, e.g. timber, solar power and ultra-low emission vehicles.
- We must be innovative and dynamic in our pursuit of a net-zero Devon, sometimes leading and steering policy and action ahead of national initiatives.
- We must collaborate to make use of a range of financing opportunities, e.g.
- Find financially viable, self-sustaining solutions and work with the private sector to develop these.
- Work with national government to develop public-sector support.
- Community investment.
- The implementation of this Plan will be monitored regularly, and a review will be triggered if carbon emissions are not reducing at the necessary pace.
1 Climate Change Committee (2019) Net Zero – The UK’s Contribution to Stopping Global
Warming. Available at: Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming – Climate Change Committee (theccc.org.uk)