Analysis  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter youth climate strikers launch Green New Deal for Devon

Fridays For Future Exeter have published a detailed vision of a more equitable future that calls on elected representatives across the county to recognise the climate crisis as a symptom of a dysfunctional political economy.

Fridays for future   Climate crisis   Green new deal  

Fridays For Future Exeter, the youth climate strikers who led 3500 people on a march through the city as part of today’s global climate strike, have launched a detailed vision for a Green New Deal for Devon.

In the fourteen page document they call on elected representatives across the county to recognise the climate crisis as a symptom of a dysfunctional political economy and to place it at the centre of every policy, planning and spending decision they make.

It focusses on the interdependence of climate and social justice, addressing a wide range of issues from unaffordable bus travel and rural unemployment to the flaws in carbon trading and credit schemes which mean they simply don’t work.

Devon greenhouse gas emissions by sector

Transport, the UK’s biggest greenhouse gas-emitting sector and a key issue in a county which heavily depends on private vehicle use, comes in for particular scrutiny. The Office for National Statistics reported this week that greenhouse gas emissions from road transport have increased by 6% since 1990, making up one fifth of the UK’s total emissions in 2017. Despite this, 93% of the county’s highways capital spending budget is allocated to road building and the promotion of incremental behavioural change, such as “encouraging active travel”, remains at the centre of county transport policy.

The impact of aviation at Exeter airport is also a major concern. A recent study showed that carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flights are rising up to 70% faster than predicted while zero emissions passenger aircraft are, at best, decades away. The growth of Exeter airport is nevertheless regularly promoted by key local organisations.

Agriculture, which emits more greenhouse gases than transport in Devon, is the subject of farming and land use proposals informed by carbon opportunity cost analysis which promote the restoration of habitats, rewilding and the provision of equitable access to natural resources such as clean air and water and green spaces. The county’s food production and supply chains are also addressed.

The document also deals with energy, housing, health and social care, the impact of the retail sector and the “business as usual” approach that currently drives much local and regional social and economic policy.

The Fridays For Future Exeter Green New Deal for Devon is primarily addressed to Devon County Council as the principal regional authority, and the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG) that it convened in response to the sequence of youth climate strikes that took place in the spring.

However, despite the county council declaring a climate emergency in February, the Net-Zero Task Force appointed by the DCERG to develop a Devon Carbon Plan has yet to hold its first meeting seven months later.

At the same time, according to the county council website, only ten of the group’s 27 members have so far signed the Devon Climate Declaration it published in May, four months ago.

This has not, however, deterred it from creating two more QUANGOs, a Devon Climate Emergency Tactical Group, and a Climate Impacts Group. Nor has it deterred Devon County Council from publishing no fewer than sixteen press releases promoting its sustainability credentials during the same period.

Neither DCERG nor its three sub-groups publish their agendas or meet in public, nor are any of their members elected. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group has embraced the oxymoronic “clean growth agenda” and a reliance on private sector investment

The DCERG aims to publish the Devon Carbon Plan by the end of 2020, two years after it first considered the climate emergency motion brought by Green Party councillor Jacqui Hodgson. The original motion proposed a 2030 decarbonisation deadline; Devon County Council leader John Hart removed this without replacing it.

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group stakeholder map

The citizens’ assembly, depicted at the bottom of the DCERG stakeholder map above, is only scheduled to meet during two of the eighteen months timetabled for the delivery of the Devon Carbon Plan. The DCERG intends it only to discuss options drawn up by the Net-Zero Task Force, and has yet to announce how its members will be selected.

The Fridays for Future Exeter Green New Deal for Devon document lays out a diametrically different vision of participation in local democracy. It says a citizens’ assembly should not only be demographically representative, but also specifically include marginalised social groups.

It also says a citizens’ assembly must be an ongoing, regular, integrated part of council decision-making and not a one-off occurrence and that its members must be involved in formulating policy and not just ratifying proposals that are likely to represent regressive agendas.

In addition, it proposes a people-led Green New Deal Commission to act as a DCERG watchdog to ensure the unelected membership of the DCERG and its sub-groups delivers the ecological and social goals at the heart of the Green New Deal vision.

The idea of a Green New Deal was originally developed by a group including Green Party MP Caroline Lucas that began meeting in 2007 in response to contemporary financial, energy and environmental crises.

It was inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which saved the US from the worst impacts of the Great Depression in the 1930’s and produced a new political realignment that sustained greater social and economic equality and environmental protection until the rise of monetarism in the 1970’s.

In partnership with Labour MP Clive Lewis, Caroline Lucas has today presented a Green New Deal bill to Parliament which aims to move our economy away from its harmful dependence on carbon, at the scale and speed demanded by the science, and to build a society that lives within its ecological limits while reversing social and economic inequality.

At the same time Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, is promoting a Green New Deal for the South West in events across the region.

She said: “The climate emergency requires a new economic approach. One that is no longer centred on growth or unsustainable consumption but on a circular and green economy.”

“The South West was once the beating heart of the industrial revolution. It can now become the centre of a green industrial revolution. The region has huge potential to be a beacon for the rest of the country – and the rest of Europe.”

“Crucially, a Green New Deal also offers the prospect of thousands of new jobs and seeks to tackle inequality and improve health and well-being.”

She will be joined at the Exeter event next Thursday by Jodie Giles of Regen, Fernanda Balata of New Economics Foundation and Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw.

Representatives of Fridays for Future Exeter will also be on the panel.


The Fridays for Future Green New Deal for Devon is a collaborative document to which everyone is invited to contribute.


 is managing editor of Exeter Observer and a director of its publisher Greater Exeter CIC.

 

 contributed visual materials to this article.


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Profile  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Is EU membership essential to our ability to deal with the climate emergency?

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, visited Exeter during her re-election campaign to explain why the EU and its Green Group is leading the way on a wide range of progressive policies.

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Exeter College students in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Barnfield Theatre

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Playing with gender expectations at Barnfield Theatre

An Exeter College interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream transforms it into an enchanting contemporary gender-adapted tale.

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Front elevations of proposed development at Mount Radford Lawn

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

Exeter Deaf Academy hopes to sell a school playing field to developers who plan to build luxury homes. Local residents have other ideas about how best to use the land. A dispute is looming over an historic green space driven by prospective profit from planning gain.

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Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

Preview  ⁄  Arts & culture

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

A new collaboration between X-Plore Youth Devon, Exeter College LGBTQ+ society, Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought SW and Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture by reimagining objects from the RAMM collections.

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Exeter City Council city centre wards map

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

Voters in Exeter yesterday elected three new councillors to represent them in the key wards that cover the city centre, with all the city's ruling Exeter Labour group candidates missing out despite the party's confident campaign.

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Exeter Clifton Hill sports centre

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Clifton Hill sports centre – the background

Storm Emma met the Beast from the East and dumped a huge amount of snow on the roof of Exeter's Clifton Hill sports centre, setting off a chain reaction which has ignited two campaigns and put Exeter City Council's approaches to competence and openness into sharp focus.

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Jemima Moore campaigning in Exeter local elections

Profile  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

Jemima Moore is a 36 year-old part-time primary school teacher and mother of two young children with little political experience. So why has she decided to stand for election to Exeter City Council on 2 May?

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Exeter City Council press and public exclusion notice

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

What does your council know that you don't know you don't know?

Extracting information from councils is hard work but increasingly necessary for local democracy.

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Greater Exeter Strategic Plan banner

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan GESPing for air?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan has been a long time in gestation. When it finally arrives, will it deliver?

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Extinction Rebellion climate emergency protesters in Exeter Guildhall shopping centre

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter Extinction Rebellion stages climate emergency protest

Today around 70 people joined the Exeter branch of Extinction Rebellion on the city's streets to demand urgent action to minimise the risk of catastrophic impacts from climate change.

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Kaleider Mikrofest Our Dancing Shadows in Exeter Princesshay

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Out of sight, out of mind

A performance of From The Light of The Fire, Our Dancing Shadows in Exeter for Kaleider Mikrofest appears to favour illusion over truth in a confused rendering of Plato's cave allegory that leaves both performers and audience in the dark.

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Exeter St James period housing stock

Comment  ⁄  Planning & place

Exeter St James regeneration

How can the supply of low-cost, incrementally investable city centre accommodation be stimulated to attract and retain creative, technically-skilled young entrepreneurial talent?

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Historic Exe Bridge traffic

Comment  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Streets are for people, not cars

Cars adversely affect economic output, air quality and wellbeing, take up valuable space when parked and discourage people from walking and cycling when driven. Reducing their use would enhance Exeter's retail and leisure offer, improve public health and attract needed workers to the city.

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