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Chapter 5: Climate Emergency

Introduction and Summary

5.1 In June 2019, the Government announced a target of net-zero for UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 following recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change. Devon County Council declared a “climate emergency” in May 2019 and committed to ensuring that the County becomes net-zero carbon by 2050. All the Greater Exeter councils have also declared climate emergencies, although with some variation between carbon emission reduction targets. Consistent with these commitments, the Paris Agreement (2016) requires limiting the rise in global temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and intends to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. Legislation requires development plans to include polices that contribute to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change, with national planning policy confirming that planning plays a key role in meeting the challenges of climate change and the transition to a net-zero carbon emissions future.

5.2 As indicated by the draft GESP vision, we have identified that transitioning to a net-zero carbon future should be a key driver of the GESP.

5.3 Policies tackling energy and climate change can have wider medium- to long-term economic and social benefits potentially including: tackling energy security and fuel poverty; providing revenue from renewable energy generation; and achieving health and wellbeing improvements. The draft GESP vision also sets out proposals for the Greater Exeter area to transform its economy, reducing carbon emissions in all sectors. The economy is already transforming and businesses wish to invest in net-zero solutions. Setting ambitious local policies to reduce carbon emissions can add much needed clarity and certainty and provide an economic stimulus to the area.

5.4 The draft policies of this chapter set out measures to:

  • Support the achievement of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest
  • Ensure all new development is carbon neutral and avoids overheating through design, construction and performance
  • Help increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy and heat
  • Enable decentralised energy networks to provide local energy solutions that are smart, flexible and resilient in relation to future energy demands; and
  • Enable the decarbonisation of existing and proposed heat networks, electricity and gas grids and transportation options through flexible utilisation of opportunities.

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