News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Devon Carbon Plan consultation finds majority want net zero by 2030

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group questions whether 2030 "realistic" and suggests "palatable" compromise while only 13% of consultees support UK government's 2050 target.

Devon carbon plan   Devon county council   Climate crisis   Carbon offsetting   Citizens' assembly  

An initial summary of public consultation responses to the first draft of the Devon Carbon Plan has found a clear majority in favour of a 2030 target date for Devon decarbonisation.

The consultation on the Devon Carbon Plan draft, which ran from 7 December 2020 to 15 February 2021, received 1,321 responses from individuals and a variety of organisations across the county.

51% of respondents said 2030 should be the date by when the county should achieve “net zero” carbon emissions, with some commenting that the urgency of the situation required rising to the challenges involved in achieving this aim.

Just 13% of the survey’s respondents support the UK government’s 2050 target date. Devon County Council’s current policy is that the county should decarbonise by 2050 “at the latest”.

A report on the consultation response findings to the county council’s Climate Change Standing Overview Group said 2030 was a “popular” target year, but asked whether it was “realistic”. It nevertheless said as “early-as-possible should be incentivised” and highlighted “a risk of being too focused on a number” saying a “rapid initial carbon reduction” is more important.

At subsequent meetings an unspecified “compromise position” on a decarbonisation date that “could be palatable to all of the organisations in the Devon Climate Emergency partnership” was suggested.

Interim Devon Carbon Plan consultation responses net zero target date preferences Interim Devon Carbon Plan consultation responses net zero target date preferences.
Data: Devon Climate Emergency Response Group.

The consultation’s 1,321 responses represent just over 0.11% of Devon’s population, although this was more than the 893 responses to the public call for evidence for the plan which took place in Autumn 2019.

Only around 45% were responses to the full-length 45 minute consultation questionnaire: the rest were responses to a brief ten minute survey. Some respondents said they were concerned by the length of the questionnaire, others commented they were pleased with its comprehensive scope.

Responses came from residents in all local authority areas in Devon, with only Plymouth under-represented, and organisations including political parties, environmental campaign groups, businesses, educational institutions and county, district, town and parish councils.

Nine webinars were held during the consultation period at which attendance varied between 50 and more than 100.

51% of individual respondents were female, 44% male and the remainder “other” or “preferred not to say”, reflecting Devon’s gender demographics. 32% were from individuals over 65 years of age while younger people were under-represented despite a targeted social media campaign aimed at reaching these age groups.

Interim Devon Carbon Plan consultation respondent age group proportions.
Data: Devon Climate Emergency Response Group.

The consultation also invited respondents to determine which of six questions laid out in the first draft of the Devon Carbon Plan should be prioritised for discussion at a citizens’ assembly of 70 Devon residents due to be held in July.

The questions are:

  • How should Devon’s landscapes evolve in ways that positively support achieving net-zero and that are beneficial to their special qualities?
  • The Committee on Climate Change scenarios for achieving net-zero require a 20% reduction in beef, lamb and dairy consumption nationally. What does this mean for Devon?
  • What is the role of reducing road capacity in reducing traffic, and is it appropriate for Devon?
  • To what extent should financial incentives and legislation be used to accelerate the retrofitting of buildings with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies?
  • What is the role of onshore wind energy in the Devon Renewable Energy Strategy? How can tensions between the support for onshore wind energy in theory and practice be reduced?
  • To what extent would the use of financial mechanisms be acceptable to Devon’s citizens to help discourage activities that generate emissions and to fund emissions reduction?

Despite intending to determine which three of these issues should be prioritised if the citizens’ assembly does not have time to deliberate them all, the consultation found near-equal interest in all six, with a slight emphasis in favour of discussion around food and farming.

The assembly will consist of a total of 24 hours of deliberation spread across several days. The 70 participants are expected to be demographically and attitudinally representative of the population of Devon.

The citizens’ assembly will not be invited to discuss the date for achieving decarbonisation in Devon, despite some consultation respondents saying they thought it should.

Nor will it be invited to consider the Devon Carbon Plan’s dependence on carbon offsetting despite its increasing significance in climate policy-making.

The citizens’ assembly “recommendations” are intended to be “considered” and used to “inform” a revised draft of the Devon Carbon Plan, which will also incorporate changes resulting from consultation responses and further input from partner organisations. It is not clear whether detailed findings from the public consultation will be published as part of this process.

The plan’s authors do not, however, intend to update its emissions reduction trajectory in response to the UK government’s recently announced revised target of reducing 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 78% by 2035, despite this target exceeding the Devon Carbon Plan aim of reducing 2010 emissions by 50% by 2035.

Similarly, the announcement that the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions would be included in national emissions reduction measures for the first time will not lead to significant changes in the Devon plan because aviation is “thought to be be less than 1% of Devon’s emissions”.

Original Devon Carbon Plan development timetable

Original Devon Carbon Plan development timetable.
Source: Devon Climate Emergency Response Group.

A second public consultation, on the revised draft of the Devon Carbon Plan, was expected before a final version was agreed. However it now appears that this second public consultation has been scrapped, in which case the revised draft will go straight to partner organisations for approval.

This is one of several compromises that have been made to compensate for slippage in the plan development timetable, which originally intended the citizens’ assembly to begin in January last year with the final plan to be produced in September and approved during October and November.

Before the decision to scrap the second public consultation the plan delivery timetable was two years and two months behind schedule. Even with this change the Devon Carbon Plan is not expected to take effect until April 2022, three years after Devon County Council convened the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group.


 is editor of Exeter Observer and a director of its publisher Exeter Observer Limited.

 


Recent stories
Protestors hold Devon County Council stop funding fossil fuel companies banner in Bedford Square

County council doubles down on pension fund divestment position

Universities social mobility scatter chart showing University of Exeter ranking

University of Exeter ranked bottom of Russell Group and 103rd overall in social mobility league table

Reclaim the Night march on Exeter High Street

500 march in Reclaim the Night protest against sexual violence and harassment on Exeter streets

Black-tailed godwits in Exe Estuary

Exe Estuary wildlife refuges succeed in increasing bird numbers

St Thomas Community Garden volunteers

First St Thomas winter market brings festival feel to "overlooked" area of Exeter

Harlequins revised redevelopment scheme - block two model view Paul Street elevation

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street


Help power our public interest journalism

More News
Universities social mobility scatter chart showing University of Exeter ranking

University of Exeter ranked bottom of Russell Group and 103rd overall in social mobility league table

Landmark study by Institute for Fiscal Studies, Sutton Trust and Department for Education finds University of Exeter undergraduates are less likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those that do are less likely to be high earners.

Reclaim the Night march on Exeter High Street

500 march in Reclaim the Night protest against sexual violence and harassment on Exeter streets

Annual event promoting public awareness of male violence against women and girls in public spaces coincides with international human rights campaigns.

Black-tailed godwits in Exe Estuary

Exe Estuary wildlife refuges succeed in increasing bird numbers

Three year monitoring study confirms introduction of protected spaces has resulted in greater numbers of wildfowl using internationally important Dawlish Warren and Exmouth sites.

All News
More Climate & Environment
Protestors hold Devon County Council stop funding fossil fuel companies banner in Bedford Square

County council doubles down on pension fund divestment position

Devon Pension Fund remains committed to fossil fuel investment despite increasingly untenable pension fund committee position that relies on unfounded shareholder influence claims and failure to understand sector position and plans.

Black-tailed godwits in Exe Estuary

Exe Estuary wildlife refuges succeed in increasing bird numbers

Three year monitoring study confirms introduction of protected spaces has resulted in greater numbers of wildfowl using internationally important Dawlish Warren and Exmouth sites.

Exeter Extinction Rebellion activists fly flag outside COP26 Exeter event at Maketank with COP26 Exeter photography project in window

COP-EXE event showcases local responses to global climate crisis

Exeter city centre venues last week hosted exhibitions promoting local action to mitigate the climate crisis in tandem with the COP26 conference in Glasgow.

All Climate & Environment
Analysis
Protestors hold Devon County Council stop funding fossil fuel companies banner in Bedford Square

County council doubles down on pension fund divestment position

Devon Pension Fund remains committed to fossil fuel investment despite increasingly untenable pension fund committee position that relies on unfounded shareholder influence claims and failure to understand sector position and plans.

Harlequins revised redevelopment scheme - block two model view Paul Street elevation

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street

Previously rejected vision will now form basis of "abysmal" and "poorly thought through" Liveable Exeter development of 383 "units of accommodation" with increased proportion of substandard studios but reduced economic value to city.

Exeter City Council climate credentials claim in St Sidwells Point development hoarding

Greens call for evidence-based Exeter carbon budget as city council clings to net zero rhetoric

The Net Zero Exeter plan lacks baseline emissions figures, recognised scope definitions and measurement and reporting frameworks, placing the city's decarbonisation agenda at risk. The opportunity for Exeter to demonstrate genuine climate crisis leadership nevertheless remains.

All Analysis
Comment
Cargo bike carrying kids in Exeter

If you think electric vehicles are the answer, you're asking the wrong question

Mike Walton of Exeter Cycling Campaign says we shouldn't be seduced by the motoring lobby into believing that electric cars can create the future we and our children need.

Net Zero Exeter logo

Is Exeter City Council going to abandon its Net Zero 2030 target?

Review suggests alignment with Devon Carbon Plan, currently aimed at 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050, citing "technical and financial challenges ahead", although change in policy would require decision by councillors after 6 May local elections.

Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Exeter City Council's Chief Executive uses statistics to show the city in a good light, but in doing so presents a picture which omits important information about the city's true position.

All Comment
Transport & Mobility
Cargo bike carrying kids in Exeter

If you think electric vehicles are the answer, you're asking the wrong question

Mike Walton of Exeter Cycling Campaign says we shouldn't be seduced by the motoring lobby into believing that electric cars can create the future we and our children need.

RMT campaign sticker on Exeter bus shelter

Stagecoach strike to take place following failed pay negotiations

Transport union RMT says Stagecoach pay offer is unsatisfactory and demands better conditions as staff shortages threaten services.

Peninsula Transport vision document cover image

30 year plan for SW transport outlined in consultation document

Strategic vision places investment in roads ahead of decarbonisation despite acknowledging the region's high car dependency rate.

All Transport & Mobility
Planning & Place
Harlequins revised redevelopment scheme - block two model view Paul Street elevation

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street

Previously rejected vision will now form basis of "abysmal" and "poorly thought through" Liveable Exeter development of 383 "units of accommodation" with increased proportion of substandard studios but reduced economic value to city.

Independent local business on Paris Street, Exeter

Prospects improve for pop-up Paris Street and Sidwell Street tenants wanting to stay on development site

Council leader Phil Bialyk says it will be "some years" before planned CityPoint redevelopment affects repurposed retail units, and that council "would want" to accommodate artistic and cultural initiatives and independent local businesses "should they wish to remain".

Clifton Hill sports centre

Council plans to scrap affordable housing requirement for Clifton Hill sports centre site redevelopment

Council-owned and financed developer cites unpublished report which values council-owned land for student housing despite council decision ruling out this use.

All Planning & Place
Arts & Culture
Positive Light Projects - Sidwell Street entrance

Positive Light Projects opens community arts centre despite CityPoint redevelopment threat

Parts of Exeter city centre are experiencing an unplanned renaissance as small shops and cultural venues move in to fill empty units on Paris Street and Sidwell Street, but uncertainty remains as the council still plans to demolish and redevelop.

Exeter Princesshay Debenhams closing down sale

Top floor of former Debenhams store to be converted into cinema

Princesshay owner's proposals for change of use to four screen cinema and cafe/bar have been under discussion since November 2019.

Preston Street Union present SERGE/SURGE at Cricklepit Mill

Preston Street Union rolls out the red carpet

The Exeter-based artists explore migration driven by the city's historic wool trade in new work commissioned by RAMM.

All Arts & Culture
Democracy & Governance
Liveable Exeter Place Board agenda October 2020 redacted

City council outsourcing Exeter local government to unaccountable Liveable Exeter Place Board

An Exeter Observer investigation of Liveable Exeter Place Board has found that it is a de facto decision-making and governance body which exercises public functions with the potential to affect everyone who lives and works in Exeter.

Exeter city centre from Exeter Cathedral roof

Freedom of Information requests reveal Liveable Exeter Place Board "chumocracy" overseeing the city

Despite the significance of Liveable Exeter Place Board's role in determining the city's future, its members are selected and appointed on a secretive, informal basis.

Exeter City Council 2021 election results ballot share percentage by ward

Did Exeter's local elections results tell a Labour success story?

Exeter Labour lost just one seat in the city council elections and held all seven of its county hall seats, but on closer inspection its performance was more mixed than these headline results imply.

All Democracy & Governance
Community & Society
Universities social mobility scatter chart showing University of Exeter ranking

University of Exeter ranked bottom of Russell Group and 103rd overall in social mobility league table

Landmark study by Institute for Fiscal Studies, Sutton Trust and Department for Education finds University of Exeter undergraduates are less likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those that do are less likely to be high earners.

Reclaim the Night march on Exeter High Street

500 march in Reclaim the Night protest against sexual violence and harassment on Exeter streets

Annual event promoting public awareness of male violence against women and girls in public spaces coincides with international human rights campaigns.

St Thomas Community Garden volunteers

First St Thomas winter market brings festival feel to "overlooked" area of Exeter

A community-run event at St Thomas' Church combined artisan traders with music, storytelling and craft workshops to create a family-friendly festival atmosphere.

All Community & Society
Economy & Enterprise
Job Centre Plus entrance

Exeter workers to be among hardest hit by £20 cut in universal credit

Analysis shows proportion of benefit claimants in Exeter in work is among highest in country.

Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Exeter City Council's Chief Executive uses statistics to show the city in a good light, but in doing so presents a picture which omits important information about the city's true position.

Illustration showing how the new building will look when completed

Exeter Science Park STEMM "grow-out building" construction begins

A new specialist centre for fast-growth Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths & Medicine businesses will be completed by November 2021.

All Economy & Enterprise