More than 100 young people and climate experts put their heads together last week to propose, debate and determine how best to reduce carbon emissions in Devon.
It was all part of The Devon Youth Climate Forum held at County Hall and hosted by the Devon Youth Parliament.
The Forum was one of a series of opportunities that Devon’s young people will have to contribute to the Devon Carbon Plan, a blueprint which will lay out what we all must do to create a net-zero county.
Pupils came from Great Torrington, St James, Pilton College, Exmouth Community Primary, Braunton Academy, Clyst Vale, West Exe, Isca, Okehampton College, Sidmouth, Exeter Cathedral School, Newton Abbot College and Torquay Girls Grammar.
The pupils, aged from 11 to 16 worked with Devon County Council’s Sustainability Officer Doug Eltham and Professor Patrick Devine-Wright, the chairman of the Net-Zero Task Force.
They were asked to explore ways to reduce carbon emissions in the county and to identify the barriers to putting those ideas into practice.
The Net-Zero Taskforce is producing the Devon Carbon Plan, and student’s ideas included the need for it to become socially unacceptable for individuals and businesses to produce a lot of carbon.
Other ideas for reducing carbon emissions included removing cars from the centre of towns and cities, for buildings to be constructed out of wood rather than brick and cement and for Devon to make use of wind and wave energy. .
The Forum, which met on Friday, also included presentations from keynote speakers including UN accredited climate change teacher Dr Ben King.
Sophie Sleeman and Eleanor Andrade May from Exeter Friday’s for Future also spoke and there were workshops from the Devon Wildlife Trust, City Science, the Growing Devon Schools partnership and the Surfers against Sewage Plastic Free Schools Initiative.
Action on carbon emissions
After lunch pupils and Members of the Devon Youth Parliament planted 10 trees in the grounds of County Hall to mark National Tree Week and support the Woodland Trust’s “Big Climate Fightback”.
The aim was to promote tree planting as a practical way to tackle climate change and raise awareness of the importance of replacing trees lost to diseases such as Ash dieback.
Ella Edmonds, the Member of Youth Parliament for Exeter, said: “Young people are really passionate about the environment and it’s important that we reflect that in what we do as a youth parliament, representing the young people of Devon, which is why we decided to hold this climate change forum as part of our environmental campaign. If each person can just make one small change in their lives, or get one idea from this event, even if it seems like something a bit insignificant, then together we can make a big difference.”
Doug Eltham, DCC’s Environment and Sustainability Officer said: “For it to be a truly Devon Carbon Plan we need the views of every section of society particularly young people who are the ones who will have to work and live in a post net zero society. They are part of the solution and what students have said here today will directly contribute to how we reduce emissions in Devon.”