Bid to make Exeter carbon neutral by 2030

‘Bold and ambitious’ plans to make Exeter carbon neutral by 2030 have been unveiled.

Reducing congestion and encouraging zero-emission vehicles, walking, cycling and public transport use are key to achieving the target, according to a report set to go before civic leaders.

Exeter City Futures, an organisation bringing together local government, the private sector and communities to tackle transport and energy challenges facing the city, is behind the vision.

Its report and recommendations will be discussed by Exeter City Council’s executive at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 11.

The report, entitled ‘Towards a Carbon Neutral Exeter’, states: “The council recognises the scale and urgency of the global challenge from climate change and accepts that cities like Exeter have a duty to act quickly, collectively and concertedly to avoid the worst of the predicted outcomes.

“Cities around the world are setting their sights on becoming carbon neutral and many, like Exeter, have made commitments to achieve this target. Very few of these cities have to date set out clear, deliverable plans to achieve those targets.

“It is now critical that Exeter defines a clear delivery roadmap that sets out the scale of the challenge and the likely investment required.”

Reducing air pollution and congestion

The report highlights that reducing congestion is a key strategic priority in the council’s Corporate Plan. Decreasing carbon-intensive transportation will play an important role in limiting future emissions.

Policies that encourage compact, pedestrianised zones, zero emission vehicles and modal shifts toward walking, cycling, public transport, as well as shorter commute distances, will be key to delivering the carbon neutral target, the report states.

Delivering these policies will also offer additional benefits including reduced air pollution, congestion and road fatalities, and improved health outcomes from more active travel and cleaner air.

The Corporate Plan proposes that the council works towards its ambition of a city where transport is not a barrier to accessing education, jobs, services or social activities, and where sustainable means of travel are cheaper, quicker and more convenient than private car ownership.

Exeter City Council leader Phil Bialyk said: “Bringing this issue to the first meeting of the new executive demonstrates how important climate change and the environmental agenda is to the council.

“We have much to be proud of in the achievements we have already made in Exeter. But we are well aware of the scale of the challenges ahead, and we are absolutely determined to rise to the challenges, in partnership with others and with the help of everyone in the city.”

Deputy leader Councillor Rachel Sutton, lead for climate and culture, said: “Much work has been going on in Exeter over many years to reduce our carbon footprint and energy consumption.

“The public is coming to realise the scale of the issue and the challenges it raises, and we are all going to have to make changes in our lives.

“We are working in partnership with Exeter City Futures, which includes the University of Exeter, the RD&E, Devon County Council and Exeter College, and we need the help of everyone in the city to bring about the changes which will improve the lives of everyone in the city.”

‘We have a duty to act quickly’

Liz O’Driscoll, programme director of Exeter City Futures, said: “In the face of unquestionable evidence about the climate crisis and growing public support for change, we as a city have a duty to act quickly, effectively and most importantly collaboratively to decarbonise and play its role in addressing the global challenge of climate change.”

The report recommends that:

  • The carbon neutral target for Exeter is framed in a way that links to wider regional targets;
  • The council commits to its operations becoming carbon neutral ahead of 2030 and to mobilise resources to develop internal plans to deliver the target;
  • The council requests a Zero Carbon Delivery Team led by Exeter City Futures to establish a city plan for delivery of the carbon neutral target;
  • The council commits staffing resources to be part of the Zero Carbon Delivery Team;
  • Exeter City Futures CIC is requested to convene a Zero Carbon Mandate Group to validate, challenge and endorse the roadmap produced by the Zero Carbon working group.

Exeter has been playing a role in rising to the critical climate change challenge for some time and the city already has a world-class reputation in climate and environmental research, says the council.

The Met Office and the University of Exeter inform the international response to climate change every day.

Exeter’s Local Industrial Strategy sets out an ambition to be the global leader for addressing the challenges of climate change and urbanisation.

Read more Exeter news here.

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