Climate Change and Biodiversity Newsletter - South Hams

Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency News Update

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1 September 2020

Reducing our Carbon Footprint and increasing Biodiversity

Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter. This is a place for us to update you on what we are doing at South Hams District Council, what things are going on around the District, what's going on nationally and things, you, our residents and businesses can be doing to reduce your carbon footprint and manage your land to improve the environment and its biodiversity.

If you have anything you would like to include in this newsletter then contact our Climate Change Specialist by email here and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

New Solar Panel Group-buying Scheme

solar together

Devon's householders have the chance to help the county become net-zero by joining Devon Climate Emergency's (DCE) solar panel group-buying scheme.

DCE is made up of Devon's principle public and private sector organisations, and they have joined forces to draw up a Carbon Plan, the county's roadmap to carbon neutrality.

The DCE's latest project is Solar Together and, with group buying experts iChoosr Ltd, they are offering homeowners the chance to buy high quality solar PV more cheaply than if they were buying alone.

Led by Devon County Council, the scheme is partnered by 10 of Devon's local authorities, who are all members of DCE's Response Group (DCERG).

The scheme's partners are East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge and Torridge District Councils, West Devon Borough Council, Exeter City Council and Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities.

Solar Together is one of the ways the DCE is helping local people take a positive step to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Research by the University of Exeter shows that 19 per cent of all Devon's carbon emissions are created by our homes, with more than half of those by grid-supplied electricity. Installing solar panels will reduce the amount of grid-supplied electricity needed for things like hot water, with a transfer to more eco-friendly solar energy.

This scheme follows four similar projects run across the country last year which promise to deliver over 1,300 installations, saving an estimated 28,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from being produced.

If you are interested, the first step is to register for free here - by registering, there is no obligation to install panels.

A 'reverse' auction involving pre-vetted suppliers will then take place this autumn and the winning bid will be the most cost-effective one for registered residents to then consider.

Registered households will then receive a recommendation, specifically tailored to the details they submitted in their registration.

If they accept the recommendation, the specifics of their installation will be confirmed with a technical survey and then a date can be set for installation.

Woodland Trust Applications for Free Tree Packs Now Open


The Woodland Trust are now taking applications for a variety of tree packs for delivery in March 2021.

To find out how to apply and what you need to do then click here.

This Month's Tips


Fancy taking part in a global bike challenge?  

For 2020, it’s simple –  Love to Ride UK are asking people to cycle for a reason personal to them for the chance to win a prize.

Participants can cycle anywhere, for any reason and with anyone. All that you need to do is register here and that your rides are logged using the Love to Ride mobile app, you can either add a journey after you've completed it or track it in real time using GPS via the app.

When you register this can be as an individual or a team at your place of work. You may even find your workplace or team have already registered by searching during registration!

The event will run between 1 September and 30 September 2020

national grid app

Be Grid Emissions Conscious

Did you know that the Carbon Emissions associated with energy use changes frequently throughout the day? As an example, during Storm Ellen, around 44% of the national grid generation was being provided by wind power. Combined with other means of energy generation, 68% of the grid generation was zero carbon.

What does this mean for you though? Well, if you time the use of high energy appliances (such as washing machines and tumble driers) when the grid emissions are are at their lowest, then using that appliance will have a more environmentally friendly impact.

The National Grid have recently launched a carbon intensity app to show you the greenest times of day to use electricity and help you see real time information on how their electricity is being produced.

Click here to find out more and links to download the app.

september clean

Pledge to Pick!

Between 11 and 27 September 2020 you can get involved with the Great British September Clean with Keep Britain Tidy.

We stand together and declare that litter, which degrades the beauty of our area and threatens to harm wildlife and ecology, is not acceptable.

You can simply register your support here by pledging on the page and telling them how many minutes you can give to the campaign, even if its just picking up litter during your dog walk, walk to the shops or even during a 2 minute beach clean as part of the 2 minute foundation (information about that is here).

Perhaps you can even use this time to record your litter pick using the Litterati App, click here for information about this app.


Action for Insects

Action for Insects is an on-going campaign led by the Wildlife Trusts. Collective action is important in not only in bringing down harmful emissions to help avert more damaging climate change but its also just as important for us all to do our bit to avert ecological collapse.

For those of us fortunate to have a garden or a small outdoor space there are ways we can better manage or create conditions which can help insects and birds thrive and together, these small interventions can help build a network of rich habitat, particularly in built up areas.

The Wildlife Trust has put together a helpful guide which contains some useful tips to attract and keep insects in your garden. Even simple things like keeping some areas of grass long or keeping and leaving dead or dying material can provide valuable shelter and sources of food for insects.

If you are interested in learning what you can do then the guide can be found here and if you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the Wildlife Trust are keen to see what you are all doing by using #ActionForInsects.

New Research and Publications

Marine and coastal areas linked with better health and well-being

Slapton Line

A new review which has been led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in collaboration with Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory suggests that exposure to coastal environments is beneficial for human health and wellbeing because of the ‘therapeutic effects’ marine and coastal landscapes have.

It highlights the need for marine conservation and further showing the importance of water access. It particularly highlights that those areas with marine or coastal area protections or designations, along with those areas which have higher levels of biodiversity have better health and wellbeing benefits than those without any protections or high levels of biodiversity.

The report also warns that in the coming decades, climate change and extreme weather has the potential to jeopardise sensitive marine habitats, demonstrating the importance of the UK’s network of Marine Protected Areas.

Interested in reading more? Click here for the full report.

New Report on the State of Global Climate in 2019.


On August 12, a major report on the state of the global climate for 2019 was published. The State of the Climate is an annual summary of the global climate and is published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 

The report is based on contributions from climate scientists all over the world, including some from the Met Office. It reveals further evidence of climate change and the Met Office reported on some key headlines, click here to see those.

Robert Dunn from the Met Office who led the editor team for the Global Climate Chapter said: "A number of extreme events, such as wildfires, heatwaves and droughts, have at least part of their root linked to the rise in global temperature." 

He also added that, ''2019 was one of the top three warmest years in the historical record dating back to 1850''.

Albert Klien-Tank, director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, commenting on the publication of the report said “In 2020 we stand at a mid-point in a climate change journey. We have come a long way in 30 years, but the next 30 years are going to be extremely challenging as we the evidence of climate science and observations to help humanity solve the climate crisis.”

The report also provides illustration of how impacts in a local area or region can spread across the globe. One of the key focal points of the report was activity in the Indian Ocean, more specifically the Indian Ocean Diopole which is a phenomena whereby the western Indian Ocean becomes warmer (positive phase) than the colder part of the eastern Indian Ocean (negative phase).

During the report period, the Indian Diopole saw its strongest occurrence in more than two decades which could be traced to flooding and unusual chlorophyll concentrations in and around the basin; unprecedented tropical cyclone activity in the Arabian Sea; historic fire and drought in Australia; and in back-to-back devastating tropical cyclones in southeast Africa.  A recent study here indicates that its likely there will an increased frequency of extreme Indian Ocean Dipole events due to greenhouse warming.

More locally, this report came during a time as the UK recorded temperatures of 34°C and above recorded for 6 days in a row (as of 12 August 2020), experiencing a lengthy heatwave of its own, of which more are expected in future years as a result of climate change.

Earth Overshoot Day Landed Later in 2020 Compared to Previous Years


Earth Overshoot Day is the day when humanity’s demand for natural resources exceeds the amount that the Earth can regenerate in any given year.

This day has continued to occur earlier and earlier since the record began in the 1970s. 2019 for instance recorded the first time this happened in July.

In 2020 however, this date occurred on 22 August, pushed back by over three weeks from 29 July when it was recorded in 2019. This has been a result of COVID-19 lockdowns which occurred across the world this year so whilst this change has not been by design, it demonstrates the impact a few months can have when travel and consumption is limited.

To find out more about Earth Overshoot Day, and even use a tool to calculate your own personal overshoot day then click here.