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Tactical Group Meeting 3rd September

Devon Climate Emergency Tactical Group minutes of meeting 3rd September 2020.
You can download a PDF of the minutes here.


  • Doug Eltham | Devon County Council
  • Sara Gibbs | Public Health Devon
  • Emily Reed | Devon Climate Emergency
  • Ellie Rowlands | Devon Climate Emergency
  • Adam Williams | South Hams and West Devon Councils
  • William Elliott | Teignbridge District Council                     
  • John Amosford | Devon Public Health
  • John Golding | East Devon District Council
  • Richard Merrifield | Devon Public Health
  • David Rose | South West Water
  • Harry Barton | Devon Wildlife Trust


  • Tom James | University of Exeter
  • Lynda Wookey | University of Exeter and Exeter City Futures
  • Andrew Busby | Mid Devon District Council
  • Julia Wordley | Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Sarah Higgins | North Devon District Council

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes were AGREED to be a true record of the discussion.

2. Project Progress Report

2.1  Project Management and Communications Update

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


John Golding and Adam Williams reported that East Devon District Council and South Hams and West Devon Councils submitted applications to the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme, in addition to the Devon-wide Cosy Devon bid.

2.2 Update from the Net-Zero Task Force

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 2 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

2.3 Update on the Climate Impacts Group

Emily Reed provided an update reflecting Section 3 of the Progress Report appended to these minutes.

3. Timetable for Net-Zero Devon

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 said that the recommendation seems achievable and well argued and that the front loading of carbon reduction projects is critical. The carbon budgets will encourage organisations and communities to maintain momentum which will be important as a critical mass of activity will make it easier and encourage a market for the new low-carbon services and technologies to develop.

John Amosford asked that the split is likely to be between reducing emissions and offsetting. Doug advised that this would largely follow the scenario outlined by the Committee on Climate Change, apportioned for Devon, which would reduce emissions by 75% and use emissions removal techniques for the remaining 25%.

John Golding asked if the paper can be shared with elected members, which Doug confirmed it can be.

The Group largely supported the proposal and AGREED for this recommendation to be presented to the DCERG on the 22nd September for further discussion.

4. Funding Opportunities

Richard Merrifield drew the Group’s attention to the Air Quality Grant Scheme.  

5. Local Updates From Members

Some members provided an update on their activity to address the climate emergency locally.

Adam Williams reported that South Hams and West Devon Councils are continuing to work with XR and community groups on a climate and biodiversity action plan.

John Golding reported that East Devon District Council is:

  • Working on a strategy for electrifying its vehicle fleet, which is already at 20%. Market doesn’t seem to be available yet for waste and refuse vehicles.
  • District heating opportunities are being explored in the west end of the district with WSP consultants.
  • Looking at biodiversity opportunities on its land holdings.
  • Linking art to climate change in the Honiton gallery.
  • Exploring doughnut economics to influence corporate strategy.

Adam Williams, Doug Eltham and John Amosford confirmed that their organisations are also looking at doughnut economics as a new model for sustainable development.

David Rose reported that South West Water is working with other water companies to develop land-use carbon sequestration tools and will be tendering in December for consultants to assist with this.

ACTION: Doug to connect up David and Harry with Andy Bell in the North Devon Biosphere Reserve in case of synergies on land-use carbon sequestration.

6. Next meeting

October 5th, 2 – 3pm.  Meeting invitations have been sent.


Period: Jul – Aug 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.
Social media following continues to grow as do the subscribers to the newsletter.
Recycle Devon are launching a textiles campaign in September which will be joint branded with DCE to try and reach a wider audience.
Using the Climate Emergency as a Material Planning Consideration  

Phil Norrey requested that DCE submits a response to the Planning White Paper consultation, specifically on the issues relevant to climate. This will be prepared in the next couple of weeks and circulated for comment before being signed off at the Response Group meeting on the 22nd September.   
Covid Reset

We have received two replies from cabinet ministers thanking the DCE for its letter and each outlines their plans to ensure a green recovery.
Tim Jones, a member of the Net-Zero Task Force, is meeting 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.

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 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 University of Exeter was going to collaborate on a research project into the effectiveness of online deliberations to understand whether the Devon Climate Assembly could move online given the continued pandemic. The University is unable to provide research funding towards this and so a procurement exercise is being undertaken.
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.
The Introduction; Food, Land and Sea; and Economy and Waste sections are drafted and are with the Task Force for comment. Mobility is being drafted now and subsequently the Built Environment and Energy sections will follow. 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

  • Finalise the assessment of the carbon saving potential of the actions with the Task Force.
  • Critical path diagrams will be updated reflecting the refined actions.
  • Drafting of the Carbon Plan text will continue and this will be shared with the sub-theme leads on the Task Force for amendments.

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 (led by the Environment Agency) is drafted and has been shared with the Group for input.
·        The natural environment (led by the Local Nature Partnership with the Westcountry Rivers Trust) has been drafted and shared with the Group for input.
·        Health is going to make use of the Public Health Devon Planetary Health report with additional input from Public Health England. This is drafted. 
The partners’ involved in COVID response has contributed to a slight delay in the timetable.
Subsequently, the social and economic commentary will be added by the University of Exeter.

3.2. Activity Expected Next Month

Narratives of the Effects of Climate Change

The narratives will be finalised and the University of Exeter will begin its commentary on wider social and economic issues.

Summary Comments

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

The Climate Impacts Group has experienced a slight delay due to a focus of some partners on the Covid-19 response, but the impact narratives are progressing.

As a whole, the project is continuing to make progress despite the Covid-19 resource restrictions.

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.

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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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