2. Introduction

2 Introduction

In May 2019, a partnership formed to respond to the climate and ecological emergency in Devon (referring to the ceremonial area of Devon including the unitary authority areas of Plymouth and Torbay). Its members represent public bodies, private sector interests, environmental organisations and academic institutions

Dartmoor National Park Authority
Devon Association of Local Councils
Devon County Council
East Devon District Council
Exeter City Council
Exmoor National Park Authority
Mid Devon District Council
North Devon District Council
Plymouth City Council
South Hams District Council
Teignbridge District Council
Torbay Council
Torridge District Council
West Devon Borough Council

Devon Wildlife Trust
Environment Agency
Natural Devon

Met Office
University of Exeter
University of Plymouth

Public Health England
Public Health Devon
Devon Clinical Commissioning Group

Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
National Farmers Union

South West Water
Western Power Distribution

The Devon Climate Emergency (DCE) partners convened a Net-Zero Task Force of fifteen volunteer specialists to steer the creation of an evidence-led Devon Carbon Plan to achieve net-zero emissions in Devon and recommend the earliest credible date for achieving net-zero emissions. 

A separate body within the partnership, The Climate Impacts Group, is working to create a Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Adaptation Plan which will help prepare these communities to live in a warmer and more resilient world. 

Coronavirus has delayed the Net-Zero Task Force from holding a Citizens’ Assembly to debate how Devon wishes to respond to potentially controversial net-zero issues. In the meantime, this Interim Devon Carbon Plan provides an opportunity to get started.

As well as their contributions to the development of this Plan, many DCE partners have been working on immediate initiatives that are already accelerating the reduction of the area’s carbon emissions and creating a fairer and more sustainable society. From hiring new staff, creating a Nature Recovery Network, developing a South West Food Hub, building solar farms and launching Devon Solar Together as a buying scheme for domestic solar panels, there is a lot of work to be celebrated already. Many partners also already have  individual climate declarations and carbon plans to reduce their in-house emissions and contribute to emissions reductions across the County. 

The need for change is clear and so is the opportunity to realise a more resilient and fairer Devon for everyone. This Plan describes the net-zero vision and how Devon can work together to get onto the trajectory to achieve it and demonstrate leadership for the rest of the UK. It outlines the process of developing this Plan, the barriers to reaching net-zero in Devon and proposes actions to overcome these challenges, many of which were identified by the public in the answers to our call for evidence and in a series of themed hearings. It has included substantial contributions from world-leading research institutions based in Devon, organisations and community representatives with invaluable local experience and is also informed by the experience of the DCE partner organisations, who will be key to delivering many of the actions. 

It reflects a shared common purpose for Devon and we look forward to hearing your comments on this Plan to understand if we have met your expectations and to refine it further based on your feedback.

Net-zero’ emissions means that the total of active removals from the atmosphere offsets any
remaining emissions from the rest of the economy” 22

The Net-Zero Task Force, comprising of volunteers,  was established by the DCE  partnership.  The fifteen specialists have considerable

Figure SEQ Figure \ * ARABIC 2 – Professor Patrick Devine is the Chair of Net-Zero Task Force

expertise in topics relevant to carbon reduction and are drawn from business, community, environmental and academic organisations. 

The Net-Zero Task Force is  chaired by Patrick Devine-Wright (Figure 2), a professor in Human Geography at the University of Exeter and a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change author. Patrick specialises in researching issues of social acceptance and community engagement with sustainable energy transitions and is a non-Executive Director of Exeter Community Energy.

Figure SEQ Figure \ * ARABIC 3 – Members of the Net-Zero Task Force attending their first meeting.

Using their expertise and their analysis of the public contributions, the Task Force  have steered the development of this Plan with the Devon Climate Emergency partners. 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.

Ian Stewart – Professor of Geoscience Communication and Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute, University of Plymouth, and President of the Devon Wildlife Trust
Iain’s geo-communication activities build on 15-years of making mainstream television documentaries about planet Earth. This ‘popular geoscience’ has led to an academic interest in how best to convey complex and contested Earth science to non-technical audiences. 

Kerry Hayes – Project Manager, Regen
Kerry is project manager at Regen and has a broad range of experience in low carbon technologies marine and offshore energy, decarbonisation of heat and net-zero planning. 

Nik BowyerChair, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, South West.
Nik is Associate Director at AECOM and a Chartered Transport Planner specialising in strategic transport planning, modelling and transport economics. At university he specialised in climate change, palaeoclimates and sustainability.

Hannah Lawrie –Chair, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, South West Centre 
Hannah is Head of Sustainability at Ricardo Energy & Environment and a Chartered Waste Manager specialising in the development and procurement of waste services and infrastructure. 

Laura Cardenas – Atmospheric Chemist, Sustainable Agriculture Sciences at Rothamsted Research
Laura has a PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry and is currently studying the link between grazing behaviour and nitrous oxide emissions from extensive upland and intensive lowland agricultural systems. She is a key contributor to the Defra inventory of the UK’s agriculture greenhouse gas emissions.

James ShortenPlanner and Geographer at Geo Consultants
James is a qualified planner with 25+ years of experience in low environmental impact development. He was the main author of the Welsh Government’s One Planet Development Guidance.

Tim Jones – Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Forum and Chair of the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Foundation
Tim is a chartered surveyor and has been involved for over 30 years in a wide range of property issues.  Tim is now extensively involved in commercial property development across the south west peninsula.

Ian HutchcroftChair of Plymouth Energy Community
Ian has been involved in energy for over 25 years. His current focus is buildings; previously Head of Local Delivery (England) at the Energy Saving Trust, Ian’s present role is with the ZebCat Project, trialling a Dutch retrofit model in Devon.

Gill Westcott – Co-Chair of Transition Exeter, and Director of New Prosperity Devon
Gill has a background in economics and education for sustainability, research on health economics and local authorities’ climate action.  She has worked with various Devon community groups and helped found the Cheriton Bishop Community Land Trust to provide affordable homes for local people.

Harry BonnellCommunity Project Officer at Devon Communities Together
Harry works on a range of engagement and development projects across Devon.  Harry holds an MSc in ‘Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability’ from BTH University (Sweden) and has experience of facilitating grass roots processes with multi-stakeholder groups.

Suzanne Goodfellow – Previous Chair of the Devon Local Nature Partnership and Chair of the Devon Wildlife Trust Board of Trustees
Sue is an ecologist and all-round environmentalist. Worked for the Dartmoor National Park Authority for more than 30 years as an ecologist, landscape conservation officer and latterly as Director of Conservation. Now runs an environmental consultancy.

Ian BaileyProfessor of Environmental Politics, University of Plymouth
Ian’s research interests are in environmental policy, climate justice and the use of carbon and other environmental markets as a way of promoting resource-efficient, effective and equitable approaches to environmental protection.

Cornelia Guell – Lecturer, European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter
Cornelia is a medical anthropologist whose research focuses on healthy living practices and policies, including experience of transport and food issues.

Lyndis ColePrevious member of CPRE’s National Policy Committee and retired Director at Land Use Consultants
Lyndis is an ecologist and landscape planner. Over the last 15 years she has focused on the interface between landscape and climate change mitigation and adaptation, including leading major national research studies for government on the future of agri-environment schemes. 

The Devon Carbon Plan is a co-produced plan combining expert knowledge with the local experiences of Devon citizens. This has been achieved in the following ways:

2.4.1 Call for Evidence

A public call for evidence ran from October 2019 until January 2020 requesting ideas on how to decarbonise Devon.  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.

2.4.2 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 in Devon 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.

2.4.3 Youth Parliament

On the 29th November 2019, Patrick Devine-Wright and Kerry Hayes of the Net-Zero Task Force facilitated a climate summit with 75 students from 15 primary and secondary schools across Devon gathering their ideas and opinions on how Devon and their schools could become net-zero.

Figure 1.44 – Devon’s Youth Parliament Climate Summit

2.4.4 Citizens’ Assembly

The initial plan was to publish a single version of the Devon Carbon Plan following an opportunity for the more controversial issues for achieving net-zero in Devon to be considered by a Citizens’ Assembly to ensure the Plan is reflective of the opinions of Devon’s citizens.

A Citizens’ Assembly is a panel of residents appropriately-selected in order to be representative of a wider population – in this case, Devon. Citizens’ Assemblies are used to establish public opinion on specific policy issues. 

However, the Citizens’ Assembly was cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions and a new approach has been taken.  The Plan has now been split into two parts. The first, this Interim Plan, contains actions which are less difficult to adopt and are more publicly acceptable. The second part will be an update to this Interim Plan and will include proposals to address the more challenging issues for achieving net-zero in Devon, which will have been discussed by a Citizens’ Assembly in 2021. A combination of the recurring themes in the Call for Evidence and the opinion of the DCE partners have been used to identify the more controversial and challenging issues. This process is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 1.5 – Process for Developing the Devon Carbon Plan

2.4.5 Public Consultation

The final stage of community involvement in the development of this Interim Devon Carbon Plan is the public consultation, which is open for 10 weeks between the 7th December 2020 until the 16th February 2021. This is a further opportunity to gather opinions from across Devon to shape the final version of this Interim Plan.

This Plan describes areas of action that are in our current power and where we need to be enabled by national government, either through the provision of resources, local powers or national legislation. Some of the actions will directly reduce emissions whereas others are steps to make future emissions reductions possible. For example, an action around awareness raising will not, in itself, directly reduce emissions however if this results in behaviour changes then emissions will be reduced. Additionally, many actions will take time to reach their potential, for example trees planted tomorrow will need years to grow for their carbon storage capacity to increase. 

The Net-Zero Task Force has attempted to take a holistic approach in assessing how Devon can reduce its emissions across all the recognised sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) as stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We have attempted to consider inter-relations between actions and how these might enable or frustrate other activities, for example how the rationalisation of street lighting could save energy but discourage cycling and walking. 

We have begun to identify the resources needed to implement this Plan. However, we acknowledge that many resources are yet to be identified and secured. We need to be innovative in funding the actions in this Plan and to work towards self-financing models which generate local income that can be re-invested into further measures to promote fair and effective emissions reduction.

Actions have been classified as having the following finance status:

  • Can be funded within existing resources
  • New local resource required – yet to be identified
  • New local resource required – identified but not secured 
  • New local resource required – identified and secured, in which case we state what that funding source is

We appreciate that many actions will require local analysis to understand the feasibility, timing and pace of roll out and identify the best way to reach net-zero within different areas of Devon. This is a living document and will require periodic review to seek the best pathways to net-zero within Devon.  However, the partnership is clear in its commitment to act and find the resources to do so.

Although our focus has been on Devon, this Plan recognises that Devon is part of the South West, the UK and the wider world. Devon is engaged in global trade and climate change is a global phenomenon. Many of GHG associated with Devon’s citizens’ day to day lives are not emitted within Devon itself but instead occur overseas. Devon must meet its responsibilities, as must all communities, if we are to maintain a liveable climate, but as a developed nation the UK has historical obligations to lead the way. 

There are wide-ranging benefits beyond addressing climate change which the actions in this Plan will deliver, many of which align with other priorities, such as improving health and social inequalities. Where possible we have highlighted these co-benefits of the actions. 

Taken collectively, the Plan articulates a vision and path for creating a resilient net-zero carbon Devon – where people and nature thrive.

We have tried to give as many people as possible an opportunity to be involved in creating and commenting on the Plan. Delivering net-zero in Devon will require and benefit from the involvement and collaboration of all sections of Devon society.  Those with particular roles that we have identified include:

  • The National Government
  • Devon County Council
  • District Councils
  • National Park Authorities 
  • Parish Councils
  • Businesses
  • Landowners and managers
  • Community Groups
  • Individuals

However, each organisation and community has their own sphere of influence, capacity, know-how and opportunities to contribute to achieving the Plan’s goals, so we have indicated within this Plan who we think is best placed to implement each action.