The full Council of Members at West Devon met this week to discuss how they are planning to approach climate change and biodiversity loss.
When they met in May the Council declared a climate change and biodiversity emergency and agreed the formation of a working group. Since then the Council's 'Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group' has been working through ideas to produce a plan that will enable them to tackle the challenge in the most logical way.
They recognise that the task in front of us all is huge and the Council cannot find solutions for the whole borough on its own.
The Council has been told that to reduce the impact of Global Warming and limit the effects of Climate Breakdown, we all need to reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible.
This week the Council are launching a borough-wide survey, asking residents for their thoughts on climate change, their current habits or behaviours and to identify what they think our barriers to change are. To complete the survey click here.
Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council said: "It is important for us to stay focused and break this down into manageable pieces of work. We have decided to break our challenge into two parts, we have the Council's internal carbon footprint, the C02 emissions that we are responsible for and then we have those of the District, some of which are within our control but most of which are not.
"In the short time since we agreed to create a plan, we have brought together a set of ideas that will point us as an organisation in the right direction. Our aim is to be carbon neutral organisation by 2030 and to have improved the habitats in our green and wooded open spaces by up to 10% by 2025.
"For those things that are outside of our direct control, we have joined forces with the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group to support the creation of a Devon-wide plan, with the aim of Devon becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
"There is already a call for evidence, asking the public to make comments and add suggestions and we have supported the group with the themed discussions that have already taken place."
West Devon Borough Council remain fully committed to working with communities and stakeholders, to share knowledge, experience and ideas, and have made a commitment to working with partners.
Mike Davies, Chair of West Devon Borough Council's Climate Change Working Group said: "This is our planet and we are in this together. We know that we cannot solve this on our own, but by working together and helping each other we can make a difference.
"As your Borough Council we have multiple roles in this. I have already talked about doing what we can for our own footprint and supporting the Devon-wide plan. We also have a role in supporting and signposting you, our residents and businesses, to the latest information and enabling you to do all that you can.
"Please do get involved with your Town or Parish Council or local climate action group. Please do respond to our survey and answer Devon's call for evidence. You can even work out your own carbon footprint using this calculator."
Our Carbon Footprint
With the help of the University of Exeter, West Devon Borough Council has now established a baseline measure of its own Carbon Footprint. The total net carbon footprint for West Devon Borough Council is 5199.4 metric tonnes of C02 emissions per year. For comparison, the average home in the United Kingdom is estimated to contribute 2.7 tCO2e per year through heating.
We have already made significant attempts to reduce our footprint through actions such as reducing the business miles. Now we are progressing other ideas such as investing in a solar farm, facilitating a salary sacrifice scheme for electric cars, getting an electric pool car and changing our vehicle fleet to electric.
West Devon Borough Council has a dedicated new website, where residents can go for more information about what the Council is doing.
Devon Carbon Plan
A Net-Zero Task Force has been established, which will use its specialist knowledge and experience to produce an evidence-led Devon Carbon Plan.
The Task Force has issued a call for evidence and has been conducting a series of hearings, to help gather views.
The views of the public will play an important role in the production of the Devon Carbon Plan. Recommendations developed by the task force will be put to a Citizens' Assembly next year. The Assembly will comprise a representative sample of Devon's citizens from different social backgrounds, including young people.
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