Devon County Council has said it fully welcomes and supports the aims of young people across the UK who are protesting about climate change today (Friday, February 15).
Students from schools, colleges and universities, including in Bideford, are set to walk out of classrooms to protest against the lack of action on climate change as part of the nationwide Youth Strike 4 Climate event.
The council says their aims and objectives are consistent with those of DCC whose cabinet has recommended that the authority declare a ‘climate emergency’ at full council on February 21.
The cabinet also recommends DCC adopts a key recommendation of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - for Devon to become carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest.
It is already DCC policy to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, exceeding the IPCC’s target by five per cent. Since 2012/2013 DCC’s emissions have reduced by 36 per cent, on track to meet the IPCC’s target.
Both measures, says the IPCC, are essential to arrest the increase in global temperatures.
Last year the IPCC’s 15th Special Report warned of the devastation a two degree rise in global temperatures would cause, causing up to 30 per cent of all species to be at risk of extinction.
Now DCC is working with strategic partners across the county to ensure that the whole county – and not just the authority - is on the right course to meet IPCC’s carbon reduction recommendations.
Partners include Natural Devon (the Local Nature Partnership), the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, the Exeter and East Devon Low Carbon Task Force and the Devon Community Energy Network.
Councillor Roger Croad, the council’s cabinet member for the environment said: “There is no doubt there is a climate emergency and unless something is done, climate change will affect people, the environment, business and our prosperity.
“We fully support the objectives of young people to reduce carbon emissions and DCC has been working hard for many years to ensure that we are on course to meet the IPCC’s carbon reduction recommendations.
“We are working with strategic partners to develop a plan to ensure that Devon meets the internationally recognised target of carbon neutrality by 2050.
“If we are to stem the increase in global temperatures everyone of all ages and all walks of life has to work together.”
The National Association of Head Teachers has said it did not condone students being out of the classroom to take action.