County is making strides to address climate change concerns

Summer heatwaves could become more frequent because of climate change.
Picture: Getty Images

You have until April 14 to comment on Devon's top climate issues - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We are all horrified by the terrible news and pictures from Ukraine that are dominating our television, radio and newspapers.
 
Putin's war is taking a terrible toll on the lives of millions of ordinary people who want nothing more than to live their lives in peace.
 
The county council has already agreed to do what we can to help the refugees who make it to this country and we are selling the small proportion of investments that our pension fund held in Russian stocks as well as making sure our supply chains do not buy Russian products.
 
Even before he invaded Ukraine, Putin was effectively ramping up gas prices and his war has meant record prices for oil and petrol.
 
In the long term that means we, as a nation, will have to reduce our dependence on imported energy and increase our supplies of sustainable power for our homes, our offices and our transport needs.
 
And those economic necessities dovetail neatly with the measures we require to combat climate change. Which makes it even more important for people to have their say on how Devon can become net-zero carbon.

I've written here before about how the county council has been instrumental in setting up a Citizen's Panel on Climate Change. It involved 70 people, chosen to reflect the make-up of our residents in Devon. They had the opportunity to quiz experts and came up with a set of proposals for how we cut our carbon emissions.
 
They've been further refining their suggestions on three key issues - using onshore wind to generate power, retrofitting buildings to reduce their carbon emissions and transport.
 
It's vital that we take people with us if we are going to be successful so we've launched a further public consultation on these areas. It runs until April 14 and will be your last chance to comment on Devon's top climate issues before we release the final Devon Carbon Plan.
 
You can take part on the website at www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk, read the documents at your local library or follow @devonclimateemergency on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
 
But I can hear some people saying less talk, more action. And we have been doing just that.
 
As a county council, we have already cut our carbon emissions by half since 2012. We voted to declare a climate emergency in 2019 and we’re committed to becoming net-zero carbon by 2030 - and that includes our supply chain.

As part of our £6 million Covid recovery programme, we have awarded £300,000 to six local projects which will contribute to job and skills creation and improve and safeguard the local environment.
The projects include Devon Wildlife Trust's Northern Devon Natural Solutions which will support local landowners, farms and smallholdings with habitat restoration and creating healthier ecosystems and EcoLogic's East Devon Conservation Grazing which will employ and train staff to establish a nature conservation grazing and rewilding enterprise in partnership with the RSPB and East Devon District Council's Countryside Service.
We also set up Devon Solar Together in partnership with our district council colleagues to buy solar panels in bulk and cut costs for homeowners.
 
That's enabled 535 homes across the county to have solar panels installed producing a total of 2065kW - the equivalent of a small, solar farm.
 
And we've been promoting Food Waste Action Week with hints and tips on cutting food waste. Our food and drink constitutes a large part of our greenhouse gas emissions and - at a time of rapidly rising food prices - cutting waste saves money as well as helps to slow climate change.