Cross Cutting Themes and Issues
This section explores cross-cutting themes – themes that are relevant to all sections of the Plan. It introduces a set of goals to be achieved, identifies barriers to achieving net-zero that the Net-Zero Task Force learnt from the Thematic Hearings and the public Call for Evidence, and proposes actions to overcome these barriers and achieve the goals.
6.2 The Change Needed
The cross-cutting themes identified as central to the delivery of the Plan are:
- Behaviour change and community engagement
- Knowledge sharing, skills and learning
- Spatial planning
- Access to finance and resources
- Procurement and commissioning
Each theme is described further below.
6.2.1 Behaviour change and community engagement
Devon needs both behaviour change and technological solutions for the Plan to be successful but just waiting for technologies such as hydrogen vehicles or carbon capture and storage solutions to mature risks delaying action.
Large-scale, deep behavioural change is challenging and requires systemic changes, but it can be achieved through a combination of providing support for people and organisations to change certain behaviours and the introduction of new policies, technologies and infrastructure. It is estimated that twenty-five percent of a population doing a behaviour is needed for it to become a social norm.1 The move to homeworking during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that we can achieve social tipping points quickly if we engage whole communities to change together.
Behaviours which reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) need to become easier to adopt and people need to understand and desire the benefits for their health, prosperity and quality of life. Everyone needs to feel they can be part of the solution and that their actions make a difference. Community organisations are important in enabling behavioural change as they have strong networks, local and specialist knowledge, and are highly motivated in pursuit of their goals.
6.2.2 Knowledge sharing, skills and learning
We each need the skills and knowledge to move towards and achieve net-zero lifestyles. A lack of people with the needed skills could limit how quickly we can install newer technologies, like heat pumps to houses.2
Equal opportunities for learning and skills sharing are critical to a fair transition to net-zero, so that no individual or community is left-behind. Devon’s business support services, schools, colleges, universities and community groups also have an important role in providing training.
6.2.3 Spatial planning
A net-zero Devon will be different from Devon as it is today. Where things are located and how they connect affect GHG emissions. High car-based mobility in Devon has meant that many rural communities have lost local services.
We need to consider how to organise housing and employment spatially so that we can reach shops, workplaces and services by walking, cycling and on public transport more easily. We can proactively and sensitively plan for changes needed within our rural and urban areas to achieve net-zero.
6.2.4 Access to finance and resources
Innovative ways of funding and resourcing the actions in the Plan are needed. Some solutions are commercially viable and can be designed to generate income streams that can be re-circulated into further carbon-reduction activity. Others could use crowd-sourced funds. There is growing interest from institutional investors in socially and environmentally ethical projects, as these can have lower investment risk and more potential to generate stable investment returns in the long term.3 In addition, more and more corporations are committing to achieving net-zero emissions in their own operations and through carbon offsetting projects that could attract finance and jobs to Devon.
6.2.5 Procurement and commissioning
All organisations have influence on achieving net-zero through what they purchase, who they buy it from and how they engage with their suppliers. Organisations must use their procurement power, by specifying environmentally and socially responsible goods and services, to accelerate a shift towards net-zero across their supply chains.
6.3 Other Opportunities and Benefits
Cross sector collaboration to achieve a net-zero Devon can deliver multiple benefits over and above carbon savings. These include:
- A culture of innovation
- New economic and employment opportunities
- Citizens feeling part of creating the future of Devon
- Communities with shared visions of what their community could look like
- Revitalised and thriving communities with access to things they need within local reach
- Landscapes which are more resilient to climate change.
6.4 Devon’s Goals to Meet Net-Zero
Devon has five Cross Cutting goals for how we achieve net-zero.
6.4.1 Goal CA – Devon Embraces Innovation to Achieve Net-Zero
Achieving net-zero will need innovation in technologies, institutions, business models, policy designs and approaches to encouraging and enabling behaviour change.4
Organisations in Devon need to monitor technological developments, provides support for innovation and assess and test their potential to help achieve net-zero in Devon.
C1. Foster innovation in technologies, institutions, business models, policy design and behaviour to achieve net-zero.
SETsquared Exeter5 is a member of an enterprise partnership between five leading research-led UK universities: Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. It’s a community of entrepreneurs who enable regional creators, innovators and disruptors to grow and develop business ideas. Funded by Research England and the European Regional Development Fund, it provides award-winning business support to help turn ideas into flourishing ventures. It runs initiatives and programmes to help students explore entrepreneurial ideas, help researchers work more innovatively and enable external businesses to utilise the resources and expertise available at the University of Exeter.
6.4.2 Goal CB – Devon’s Communities Imagine and Deliver their Net-Zero Future
Imagining alternative, better futures for Devon can help to build public understanding of the climate emergency, develop support for the net-zero transition and encourage us to risk doing radically different things.6
Community groups need to be helped to develop detailed, local net-zero visions and start delivering them.
C2. Provide high quality, objective information and education for communities about the crisis nature of the climate emergency.
C3. Support communities to develop local net-zero visions.
C4. Provide support to communities to deliver their low-carbon transformation.
Net Zero Visions
Acclaimed professionals in animation, illustration, interactive games, and public murals worked with communities to produce positive ‘Visions’ of locations across Devon as carbon net-zero in 2050 (Figure 6.1).7 Individuals could add to these by submitting their own visions online (See Figure 6.2).
Visions featured in an online gallery, as well as in a book to be published in November 2022. Public libraries across Devon will receive a free copy.
The visions have sparked high levels of public interest. For example, the mural in Tiverton has led to enquiries to councils about how they could work with the community to deliver elements of the visions. It is hoped that individuals and groups will take, develop and adapt the ‘Net-Zero Visions’ idea into their own projects and purposes.
The project is led by Dr David Sergeant, Associate Professor in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Dr Emma Whittaker, Creative Industries Industrial Research Fellow, Low Carbon Devon, University of Plymouth.
6.4.3 Goal CC – Devon’s Citizens Shape the Transition to Net-Zero
The public have helped develop this Plan, most notably via the Devon Climate Assembly , and public consultations, and there will be further challenges on the journey to net-zero that will benefit from involving Devon’s citizens in finding the solutions.
We need to better understand the effectiveness and impact of the Devon Climate Assembly to consider the appropriateness of using similar forums again in future.
C5. Research the effectiveness of the Devon Climate Assembly to inform whether this approach could be applied to citizen participation in other decisions locally.
6.4.4 Goal CD – Spatial Planning Creates Places that Radically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We need thriving communities that provide access to most of our everyday needs within a short and pleasant walk or cycle ride – an idea known as ‘the 20-minute neighbourhood’.8 This will substantially increase opportunities to minimise car use.
This is easier said than done, of course, and so flexibility is required in how it is achieved. Outside of Devon’s main settlements, market towns and their surrounding villages can be planned to function as ‘network neighbourhoods’ to meet most of the needs of residents locally. In more rural areas the combination of existing and new walking and cycling routes could create a close network of villages and hamlets functioning as one neighbourhood. Electric bikes are an increasingly popular way of making longer journeys easy and low-carbon. Adding short public and shared transport trips to the travel modes can further help deliver this vision.
One Planet Development
If everybody on Earth lived the same lifestyle as we do in the UK, we would need 2.6 planets to provide enough resources.9
One Planet Development (OPD)10 is a forward-thinking planning policy that provides a genuinely affordable and sustainable ways for people to live and work on their own land and achieve a true one planet footprint. OPD residents must meet their needs from their land-based activity within five years. One Planet homes are required to be zero carbon in construction and use.
OPD has potential to accelerate the creation of zero carbon 20-minute neighbourhoods as it focuses on a whole land use system rather than just proximity and transport. It could be an innovative model that helps people to address the challenges of affordable housing and zero carbon communities together.
Development plans should include carbon reduction targets to encourage appropriate policy responses to deliver against that aim. This will be a mix of solutions that will vary between places drawing on the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods and OPD.
C6. Development plans to demonstrate how they will shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as a primary planning objective, including drawing on the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods and One Planet Development.
6.4.5 Goal CE – Landscape Change Arising from the Net-Zero Challenge is Planned for Positively
The quality and character of Devon’s landscape is one of the County’s most important assets. Without positive interventions, these landscapes could change fundamentally in response to pressures from the changing climate.
Devon’s Landscape Character Assessment11 is the main planning tool to manage and guide landscape changes. It describes variations in character between different areas and types of landscape in the County. The challenge that now needs to be addressed by all landscape character assessments is to identify the greatest benefit that individual landscapes can offer in terms of: (a) meeting net-zero; and (b) increasing the resilience of landscapes to climate change. It is important that communities are involved in the evolution of landscape character assessments so that people have an opportunity to be engaged with how Devon will look and feel in the future.
C7. Involve communities in an update to the landscape strategies and guidelines within Devon’s Landscape Character Assessments to plan positively for achieving net-zero and the changes which climate change will bring.
6.5 Summary of the Actions
Figure 6.3 shows the reference number and text of each Cross Cutting Themes action. The anticipated start and duration of each action is shown on the right-hand side of the diagram.
The action, with its duration highlighted in red, has been identified as a priority through two processes. First, the Net Zero Task Force assessed the actions’ potential to contribute to significant emissions reductions and the likelihood they can be implemented. Second, some actions were highlighted as priorities by the respondents to the public consultation.
For more detail, including who can help to deliver these actions, see the full action table.
1 World Resources Institute (2020) Expert Perspectives: Changing Behaviour to Help Meet Long Term Climate Targets, the necessity of behaviour change to meet climate targets. Available at: https://www.wri.org/climate/expert-perspective/changing-behavior-help-meet-long-term-climate-targets
2 Committee on Climate Change (2019) Net Zero Technical Report. Available at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-technical-report/
3 Landberg, R.et. al. (2019) Green Finance Is Now $31 Trillion and Growing, Bloomberg. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-green-finance/
4 Stark, C. et. al. (2019) Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming. UK Committee on Climate Change. Available at:https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming/
5 SETsquared (Unknown) Home Page. Available at: https://setsquared.exeter.ac.uk/
6 Sergeant, D. (2022). The Near Future in 21st Century Fiction: Climate, Retreat and Revolution (Cambridge Studies in Twenty-First Century Literature and Culture). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
7 Devon Climate Emergency (2022) Net Zero Visions. Available at: https://devonclimateemergency.org.uk/net-zero-visions/
8 Town and Country Planning Association March (2021) 20-Minute Neighbourhoods – Creating Healthier, Active, Prosperous Communities An Introduction for Council Planners in England. Available at: https://tcpa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/final_20mnguide-compressed.pdf
9 Statista (2022) Earth Overshoot Day – The World is Not Enough. Available at: https://www.statista.com/chart/10569/number-of-earths-needed-if-the-worlds-population-lived-like-following-countries/
10 One Planet Council (2019) One Planet Development. Available at: http://www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/One-Planet-Council-leaflet.pdf
11 Devon County Council (2020) Devon’s landscape character assessment. Available at: https://www.devon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policies/landscape/devons-landscape-character-assessment