River flowing at Burrator, Dartmoor

Climate scientists from the University of Plymouth have joined a team of experts assembled to deliver Devon’s Carbon Plan, the county’s roadmap to carbon neutrality.

The new Net-Zero Task Force, established by Devon County Council, is made up of environmental experts, community representatives and business leaders.

It includes 12 core members, among them Professor of Geoscience Communication and Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute Iain Stewart MBE and BSc (Hons) Ocean Science and MSc Marine Renewable Energy graduate Kerry Hayes, now working as a project manager at Regen. There are also two advisory members, including Professor of Environmental Politics Ian Bailey.

Between them, they will aim to ensure the available resources are focussed on the most appropriate decarbonisation issues and can identify the best opportunities to engage effectively with communities.

The task force is one of a number of initiatives being taken to help manage the Devon-wide response to the declaration of climate emergencies by various authorities and organisations across the county.

It already supports the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group (DCERG), made up of the chief officers of more than 25 public, private and voluntary sector organisations.

The University of Plymouth is renowned internationally for its world-leading environment and sustainability research and teaching, and itself declared a climate emergency earlier this year.

In doing so, it committed to adopting a net zero emissions target (scope 1 and 2) by 2025 as well as reducing water and energy use and increasing recycling rates.

This is the latest example of it supporting regional environmental initiatives with Professor Stewart already serving as President of the Devon Wildlife Trust and Patron of the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark. He also holds a UNESCO Chair in Geoscience and Society.

He said:

“The Climate Emergency movement has galvanized the UK’s climate change community. It has really connected with ordinary people across the political spectrum, especially young people whose future is directly threatened. The challenge for us here in the South West is working out how best to deliver its ambitions and what role the region’s universities have in supporting this exciting initiative.”
Professor Bailey’s research is centred on climate and energy governance, and he has been involved in research on national climate politics in the UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand. His particular focus is on the politics of carbon pricing and the use of political and communication strategies to shape debates on national climate and energy policy.