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Devon Carbon Plan

This is the full length Devon Carbon Plan all the background information, research and detail regarding how Devon can become net-zero across five intersecting themes. This version is best suited to anyone looking to learn about the full scope of the climate emergency in Devon, and how Devon will tackle this. 


The Challenge and Opportunity of Climate Change

1.1 Global Effects and Impacts

Our planet’s climate is changing and warming is accelerating. Globally, 2010-2019 was the warmest decade since records began in 1850 and each decade since 1980 has been warmer than the preceding one.1 2020 and 2016 tie as the warmest years on record, which were 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.2

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded it is unequivocal that emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by humans has warmed the atmosphere.3 The greenhouse effect occurs when GHGs in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane, trap some of the sun’s heat. This process makes Earth warmer and over the last 12,000 years has allowed humanity to thrive. 

However, the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and intensive agriculture have been changing the balance of the greenhouse effect. The increased levels of GHGs mean more heat is being trapped, causing our planet to warm at an unprecedented rate.

This warming is causing more extreme storms, droughts, heat waves, melting ice, ocean acidification and rising sea levels. The impacts of these changes are widespread (see Figure 1.1).

Climate change is not simply an environmental problem. It has been described as “humanity’s greatest threat“ by Sir David Attenborough;5 as the “biggest threat to the global economy” by the World Economic Forum;6 as the “greatest threat to global security” by the UN Security Council;7 and the “greatest ever threat to human rights” by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.8

Figure 1.1 – Impacts of Climate Change, with permission of the Met Office

1.2 Evidence of Climate Change in the UK and Devon

1.3 Climate Projections

1.4 Climate Justice

1.5 The Opportunity

1.6 References

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