County council set to meet UN emissions target as Devon becomes ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050
Posted on: 28 January 2019
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.
The notice of motion follows the latest warnings from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the devastation a 2°C rise in global temperatures could cause.
The cabinet’s recommendation to Full Council that the authority declare the emergency was made at Devon County Council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday January 9.
The 15th Special Report from the IPCC, published late last year, also identifies the global benefits of limiting warming to 1.5°C by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Consequently, DCC will be working with strategic partners across the county to ensure the county is on the right course meet the IPCC carbon reduction recommendations.
Partners include Natural Devon (the Local Nature Partnership), the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, the Exeter and East Devon Low Carbon Task Force and the Devon Community Energy Network.
The Special Report warns that a 2°C rise in global temperatures would put up to 30% of all species at risk of extinction, 90% of tropical coral reefs would be lost, crop yields would reduce and droughts will become more common.
It adds that by limiting warming to 1.5°C, by reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs), 50% fewer species will be at risk of significant habit loss, 10 million fewer people will be displaced due to sea level rise and 420 million fewer people will be exposed to extreme heatwaves.
In addition, the chance of sea-ice-free Arctic summers will reduce to 1 in 100, instead of 1 in 10 at 2°C. The IPCC recommend reducing global GHG emissions by 45% of 2010 levels by 2030 and by 2050 not emitting any GHG’s at all.
DCC reviewed its Climate Change Strategy in 2018, which commits the authority to assist the UK in meeting national climate targets.
Key areas of work include help for vulnerable people to improve the efficiency of their homes through the Cosy Devon and the Local Energy Advice Programme (LEAP) and providing superfast broadband which would reduce the need to travel for reasons including work.
The council also supports renewable energy initiatives, which help communities to generate their own energy, and promotes sustainable transport projects.
DCC is also working with Exeter City Council, Exeter University, Exeter Community Energy and Swanbarton Limited on The Local Energy Market in Devon and Exeter (LEMDEx) project. Increasing the use of local renewable energy will help reduce carbon emissions and energy costs.
Through DCC’s environmental performance programme, the authority’s GHG emissions have reduced by 36% since 2012/13, which is on track to meet DCC’s policy target of a 50% reduction by 2030.
This has been achieved through the retrofitting of LED lighting, replacing less efficient boilers, and swapping desktop computers with more efficient laptops in its buildings.
Other changes include switching street lamps to part-night operation and upgrading to LED lighting- street lighting. Street lighting accounts for a significant amount of the county council’s carbon emissions.
Over the past three years, the County Council has converted over 25,000 street lights to low energy LED technology and has replaced more than 5,400 streetlighting columns.
Improvements in vehicle efficiency in the county council’s vehicle fleet and technology that reduces the need to travel for work such as Skype, have also contributed to the reduction of DCC’s emissions.
There are also benefits provided by the reduced carbon-intensity of electricity purchased from the National Grid through the deployment of renewable energy.
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.”