Devon agencies act now to tackle climate emergency

Wind turbines turning on the top of a hillside Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Posted on: 14 May 2019

“These are not just warm words. These are facts. This is a climate emergency, and as Chief Executives of Devon’s public service providers, we have a duty on behalf of all of our organisations and those who we represent to commit to action now,” said Phil Norrey, Chief Executive of Devon County Council.

Chief Executives and Directors from nearly 20 public and private sector organisations in Devon, have given with one voice their unhindered commitment to tackling the climate emergency.

Public bodies, business representatives and utility companies – all members of a new Devon Climate Emergency Response Group – have been asked to support urgent action on the climate emergency.

In a telephone meeting of the group, chaired by Devon County Council’s Chief Executive, Phil Norrey, they unanimously agreed to collaborate, committing each organisation to review their own carbon reduction plans and to work together on a Devon-wide carbon plan.

Each organisation will be represented on a county Climate Emergency Tactical Group that will initially see to the drafting of the declaration within the next fortnight.

Dr Norrey said:

“We know that climate change has the potential to seriously damage human welfare and the environment and has already caused civil unrest. I am acutely mindful that no single organisation can address this issue alone, nor can local organisations and communities bring about the scale of change necessary without substantial national government intervention.

“Our younger generation has sent a very passionate message in response to the climate emergency. Action is needed more than words. This is the first time that major organisations in the county have stood behind that call and in one voice agreed to act now.”

Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Paul Netherton, will lead a Devon Climate Impacts Group as part of the initiative, and was on the call. The group will look at how infrastructure and the delivery of public services generally will have to adapt to climate change.

He said:

“This is an emergency. The timescales are different to those that we regularly respond to, but if we don’t act, the consequences are horrendous.”

17 comments on “Devon agencies act now to tackle climate emergency

  1. Daverick Leggett says:

    Well done for this initiative. It’s very encouraging and let’s hope radical action comes from it. I was wondering whether Dartmooor National Park are on board. It seems to me they are well placed to deliver on tree planting/rewilding which is one important part of the solution. Personally I call on Dartmoor National Park to reforest at least 25% of the land they manage.

  2. Sharon Pavey says:

    And who were the 20 organisations who were invited?

    • Hi Sharon, the organisations who were able to attend this, the inaugural meeting, were local authorities, Western Power Distribution, the University of Exeter, South West Ambulance Service Trust, Devon and Cornwall Police, Natural Devon, Devon Public Health, Public Health England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Thanks.

  3. Peter Scott says:

    I welcome both the initiative and the tone of the language.
    However I have a fear that delay will happen simply because of the cumbersome nature of decision making within large organisations.
    I wonder how quickly 20 organisations in collaboration, each with their own democratic decision making processes, can act. The process has already started, but how quickly can it actually reach results.
    And how susceptible will it be to blocking from cynical vested interests as has happened for the last thirty years?
    This, as you say is an emergency. How will this not turn into an endless series of meetings? This is a Dunkirk moment. We need the equivalent of a flotilla of pleasure craft to evacuate an army and we need it now!
    What can the Response Group offer me to allay my concern?

  4. Ralph Hayward says:

    All NHS organisations are required to produce a Board approved Sustainable Development Management Plan setting out how they are meeting key targets for carbon reduction. Will the Devon Plan take account of what local NHS providers are already doing and planning to do? How will the local NHS Trusts be involved in this initiative?
    Thank you

  5. Jo Hutter says:

    I’d like to suggest a template is made available for schools to use and publish on their website. This would awareness on this issue and let the school and wider community know what we are doing and what our future plans are. This would kick start those discussions at Governor and Management level when completing the template / Action Plan.

  6. Martin Perry says:

    Congratulations on the initiative.
    It still horrifies me when I see so many landfill bags outside houses awaiting collection..
    Perhaps a monthly collection might encourage less waste. After all with food waste collected weekly do we need fortnightly collections?

    • Hi Martin. Thanks for your comment. Indeed. There’s certainly things that we can all do ourselves, and reducing waste is part of that. We don’t actually do the curb side collections – tends to be District Councils that do that – but I get your point. We do have some info on our Recycle Devon website that might be of interest, to give people ideas about how they can reduce their food waste (including recipes for using up leftovers). https://www.recycledevon.org/love-food-hate-waste Have a look and hopefully there’s ideas in here that we could all adopt. Thanks.

  7. Nick Wakley says:

    I don’t see any manufacturing industries in the list above – were any represented at the meeting

    • Hi Nick. The Local Enterprise Partnership has been involved in the discussions, and the group will increase its representation from the business community. Thanks.

  8. David Ramsden MBE says:

    This response sounds great, really great. We wait with interest to see if it produces urgent, radical, and far-reaching actions. Irrespective of what we do now, massive changes are coming. The best we can hope for is to try and reduce the inevitable impacts that both Climate Change and Biodiversity Losses will have. Business as usual is not an option.

  9. Godfrey Whitehouse says:

    This sounds like a welcome initiative.

    1) Please can you tell us who the 20 public and private sector organisations are?

    2) Are there any published minutes or notes of the discussions so far? If not available now, will they be published?

    3) Will the declaration referred to above be published?

    4) When might we hope to see the Devon-wide carbon plan?

    • Hi Godfrey. Yes, the organisations who were able to attend the inaugural meeting were local authorities, Western Power Distribution, the University of Exeter, South West Ambulance Service Trust, Devon and Cornwall Police, Natural Devon, Devon Public Health, Public Health England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The draft minutes and their publication will be discussed at the next meeting on the 22nd May. The action points are all included in the news release. The Devon Climate Declaration is being developed collaboratively by the group and will be published following its adoption by the members. The preparation of the Devon-wide Carbon Plan will be overseen by the Group, and a timescale will be determined in partnership. Thanks.

    • Gill Gale says:

      Thank you for making a good start.
      Public transport does not seem to be on the list.

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