Devon in the Future
4.1 Vision and Objectives
The vision is a resilient, net-zero carbon Devon where people and nature thrive.
A set of eight objectives demonstrates concisely what this Plan needs to achieve by 2050 at the latest to reduce emissions, alongside work to improve resilience to the changing climate through the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Plan. These are shown below. Indicators to monitor progress towards achieving these are proposed at Section 12 of this Plan.
The implementation of the vision and objectives brings opportunities to create a fairer, healthier, more resilient and more prosperous society. Some examples are described in Section 1.5 and further co-benefits of reducing carbon emissions are highlighted throughout this Plan.
4.2 A Chance to Build Back better Better from COVID-19
In the most tragic of circumstances, the pandemic has shown what a more sustainable Devon might sound and feel like. The first lockdown in April 2020 resulted in a reduction in Devon’s carbon emissions by almost a quarter (23%). Average traffic flows reduced by 60% and air quality improved. However, history indicates that after an economic downturn the rebound in emissions is often larger than the decline. There is every chance that this will happen again unless there is concerted action to build back better.
There is strong public support nationally for the recovery to align with the imperatives created by the climate emergency. Almost 80% of the National Climate Assembly members agreed that the “Steps taken by the government to help the economy recover should be designed to help achieve net-zero” and 93% agreed that, “…government, employers and/or others should … encourage lifestyles to change to be more compatible with reaching net-zero.”1
The chairman of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Lord Deben, said:
“The UK is facing its biggest economic shock for a generation. Meanwhile, the global crisis of climate change is accelerating. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these urgent challenges together; it’s there for the taking. The steps that the UK takes to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic can accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon economy and improve our climate resilience.”2
Devon is seizing this opportunity. The partnership has written to Boris Johnson endorsing the CCC’s policy recommendations for building a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and highlighting aspects that are particularly pertinent to Devon. This plan lays a roadmap to building back better.
1 Climate Assembly UK(2020) Interim Briefing –COVID-19, Recovery and the PathTo Net Zero Executive Summary. Available at: https://www.climateassembly.uk/documents/78/COVID_19_and_recovery_FINAL_w_links_003.pdf
2 Climate Change Committee (2020) COVID-19 can be an historic turning point in tackling the global climate crisis. Available at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/2020/06/25/covid-19-can-be-an-historic-turning-point-in-tackling-the-global-climate-crisis/