26 JUNE 2019
Devon Climate Declaration
Cabinet Member(s): Councillor Bob Deed, Leader of the Council
Responsible Officer: Stephen Walford, Chief Executive
Reason for Report: To consider the declaration of a climate change emergency
RECOMMENDATIONS: See paragraph 5.0 below.
Financial Implications: as a policy decision there are no financial implications
arising from this decision. Implications will arise as a result of any future decision on
Legal Implications: as a policy decision there are no legal implications arising from
this decision. Implications will arise as a result of any future decision on
Risk Assessment: No risk assessment has been undertaken, although clearly the
wider risk of not taking action on matters of climate change, both resilience and
adaptation, are significant.
Equality Impact Assessment: as a policy decision there are no equality impact
implications arising from this decision. Implications will arise as a result of any future
decision on actions/interventions.
1.0 Background
1.1 Devon County Council has declared a climate emergency. They have
committed to facilitating the reduction of Devon’s carbon emissions to netzero by 2050 at the latest and have formed the Devon Climate Emergency
Response Group (DCERG) to enable strategic partners to collaborate on
producing a Devon-wide Carbon Plan.
2.0 Context
2.1 The UK government has, through the Climate Change Act 20081
, committed
the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% (from the 1990
baseline) by 2050. The latest published figures (Feb 2019) show that the
government met its carbon reduction targets in its first two carbon budgets
(dated ‘08-12 and ‘13-17) – see Appendix B for details.
2.2 The national Committee on Climate Change has expressed concerns that
while the 3
rd Carbon budget (‘18-22) is projected to be on track, the 4
(covering ‘23-27) is not. This recognises that future targets will be harder to
1 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents
Page 3 Agenda Item 5
achieve as the 3% yearly reduction gets progressively more challenging to
2.3 The Devon-wide target is more ambitious than that set out in law, against
which it is estimated that the UK will find increasingly challenging. However, it
is felt that being bold in our ambition will not only set out a statement of intent,
but will galvanise public opinion and sentiment – since many of the
interventions necessary to achieve carbon neutrality can only be achieved by
the actions and behaviours of the people of Devon.
2.4 It should be noted that at the time this report was being finalised, the Prime
Minister had indicated that she intended that the UK government would be
seeking to revise the national targets to achieve a net zero position by 2050,
substantially accelerating the required progress to achieve carbon reduction
interventions and outcomes. If appropriately enacted through legislation in
due course, this would bring the national target and policy position in line with
what Devon is proposing.
3.0 Recent actions
3.1 As a result of the DCC declaration, the DCERG was convened under normal
‘emergency response’ protocols and as such has been led by officers acting
under such protocols. Members have been previously advised by the Chief
Executive on these arrangements (note that these events occurred during the
pre-election purdah period and immediately thereafter), with an undertaking
that any appropriate policy statement or policy undertaking will be put to
members in a public forum to enable a council vote on whether to adopt such
a policy.
3.2 On the 22nd May 2019, the members of DCERG endorsed the underlying
principles of the Devon Climate Declaration. It was agreed that each senior
officer would seek the opportunity for their organisation to discuss/debate and
sign the Declaration as quickly as their procedures allow. This item provides
that opportunity to members of Mid Devon District Council.
3.3 In addition, it should be noted that on Friday 29th May, the council received a
delegation from protesters linked to the climate change agenda as part of the
School Strike for Climate – an international movement of school students
deciding not to attend classes and instead take part in demonstrations to
demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change3
4.0 Next steps
4.1 Members are invited to consider whether the council should formally sign up
to the declaration as drafted. They may also wish to consider delegating a
follow-up item to the relevant policy development group (PDG) to give more
consideration as to how the council can take appropriate steps to reduce its
own carbon impact and support the residents and businesses of Mid Devon to
do likewise.
2 https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/reducing-carbon-emissions/how-the-uk-is-progressing/
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_strike_for_climate
Page 4
5.0 Recommendations
5.1 It is recommended that:
5.1.1 The council adopts the statement at Appendix A outlining the Devon Climate
Change Declaration.
5.1.2 The council agrees to work to the Devon-wide target of net-zero carbon
emissions by 2050.
5.1.3 The council continues to work, through the DCERG and other mechanisms as
appropriate, to collaborate on producing a Devon-wide Carbon Plan.
5.1.4 The council directs the Environment Policy Development Group (PDG) to act
as the initial owner of this policy activity within the council; with future PDG
meetings considering how best to determine the council’s own policy
response(s) such as may then be subsequently recommended to cabinet and
council in the normal way.