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Devon County Council’s cabinet has recommended that the authority  declare a ‘climate emergency’ and forge ahead with a county-wide partnership to ensure that Devon is carbon neutral by 2050.
Read more from the Official news here.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment said: “There is a climate emergency and climate change will affect the environment, people, businesses and our prosperity.
“That’s why we will be working with strategic partners to develop a plan to ensure that Devon is on the right trajectory to meet the IPCC’s carbon reduction recommendations.”

However Green Councillor Jacqui Hodgson is proposing a motion at Full Council on 21st February at 2.15pm that seeks to strengthen this commitment:

Full Council notes:

1.   Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world.  Global temperatures have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels.  Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm).  This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity;

2.   In order to reduce the chance of runaway Global Warming and limit the effects of Climate Breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from their current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible[i];

3.   Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm;

4.   Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption;

5.   Devon County Council has already shown foresight and leadership when it comes to addressing the issue of climate change when back in 2004 we signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change and has since recognised this in its strategy for responding to the Climate Change Act 2008 which underpins its strategies, actions plans, public statements and advice to businesses, residents and parish councils;

6.   Unfortunately, our current plans and actions are not enough.  The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius limit before 2050;[ii]

7.   The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, published last month, describes the enormous harm that a 2 degrees Celsius rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5 degrees Celsius, and told us that limiting Global Warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities;[iii]

8.    Local Authorities around the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency.[iv]

Full Council believes that:

1.   All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and local governments that recognize this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies.  It is important for the residents of Devon and the UK that counties commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;

2. Local Authorities are uniquely placed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions;[v]

3.   The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority; and,

4.   Bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities (as well as improved well-being for people worldwide).

Full Council calls on the Leader to:

1.   Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;

2.   Pledge to make the county of Devon carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions (scope 1,2,3);[vi]

3.   Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible;

4.   Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius;

5.   Continue to work with partners across the county and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans;

6.   Report to Full Council within six months with the actions the Council will take to address this emergency.

Having had regard to the aforementioned, any factual briefing/position statement on the matter set out in Report (CSO/19/2) and other suggestions or alternatives considered at that meeting the Cabinet subsequently resolved (a) that the Council reaffirms its recognition of the scale and urgency of the global challenge from climate change, as documented by the latest Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and declares a climate emergency; and (b) mandates the Environmental Performance Board to review and recommend what further corporate approaches can be taken through the DCC Climate Change Strategy and Corporate Energy Policy and to facilitate stronger Devon-wide action through collaboration at a strategic, community and individual level.