South Hams Climate Change and Biodiversity Newsletter

Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency News Update

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February 2021

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.

Devon Carbon Plan Consultation

devon climate emergency

The public consultation on the Devon Carbon Plan is still underway and the deadline for comments is Monday 15 February.

Be sure to keep updated by following the Devon Climate Emergency social media channels below.

The Webinar series has now ended, however you can catch the recordings on the Devon Climate Emergency YouTube channel: 

Devon Climate Emergency - YouTube

Did You Know?


As we move through our second national COVID-19 lockdown, we are all encouraged to make sure we are getting enough exercise to ensure we are physically and mentally fit. Now could be the perfect time to begin to develop new habits.

Cycling for your day-to-day needs is one of the best ways to reduce our own carbon footprint as well as staying fit and healthy. The average petrol car in the UK produces an equivalent of around 291g of CO2 every mile and in England, around 60% of 1-2 mile trips are made by car. From a health perspective, cycling is linked with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), compared to commuting by car or public transport. Physical activity has a beneficial effect on mental health and well-being and can help tackle depression, anxiety and stress.

The winter can be a tricky time to take this up, what with the colder weather, darker and often wetter conditions. However, at the moment the roads are much quieter and this can be a good opportunity to get to know your local roads by bike, perhaps you could even factor in a 'fake' cycle commute into your day?

Webinar Highlights


Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods. 

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) will jointly convene three days of online discussion and debate on best practice and policy, underpinned by scientific evidence, to go beyond the headlines and find ways of raising the standard of global reforestation.

The online conference is free and due to take place between 24 – 26 February 2021.

Registration closes Friday 19 February, 12pm UK time (UTC) or when tickets fully booked.

Click here for more information and to register.

New Research and Publications

Government Response to Future Homes Standard Consultation


Between October 2019 and February 2020, the Government hosted a public consultation from 1 on proposed changes to the Building Regulations. 

The Future Homes Standard will require new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency; it is intended to be introduced by 2025.

Last month (January 2021) the Government published the summary of the consultation as well as its response. Some of the commitments as part of that consultation response were:

  • From 2025, new homes will not be built with fossil fuel heating, such as a natural gas boiler and that no further energy efficiency retrofit work will be necessary to enable them to become zero-carbon as the electricity grid continues to decarbonise.
  • new planning reforms will clarify the longer-term role of local planning
    authorities in determining local energy efficiency standards. With this in mind the Government will not amend the the Planning and Energy Act 2008 meaning local authorities will retain powers to set local energy efficiency standards.

The Government indicated that a full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard has been accelerated and that a consultation on this will be in 2023 before introducing legislation in 2024.

To read the report in full, click here.

Prime Minister Commits £3bn UK Climate Finance


On the 11 January 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK will commit at least £3 billion to climate change solutions that protect and restore nature and biodiversity over five years.

Click here to read the press release in full.

Evidence of Climate Change on UK Weather in 2020

met office

on 12 January 2021, the Met Office posted a review of the UK's climate in 2020.

Their study suggests that without human-induced climate change, a year as warm as 2020 in the UK would only have had a likelihood of 1.1%, or around 1 year in 90.

Compared to today, with human induced climate change, that estimate increases to around 56%, which mean around half the years to come are expected to exceed the warmth of 2020.

To read the study in full, its available at Carbon Brief.

Climate Change Vulnerability and the State of Adaptation on England's National Nature Reserves

nature reserve

Last month, a study published by Natural England found that England's National Nature Reserves have high levels of climate vulnerability, specifically a significant proportion of the biodiversity for which many National Nature Reserves were originally established are under threat from climate change.

The most striking finding was that changing sea levels and extreme changes in rainfall are likely to pose an even greater risk than the risks associated with temperature rises in many of the reserves.

The paper calls for an increasing need to plan for, and manage, change to protected areas. This, set against a wider context of conservation and environmental restoration, where an emphasis on dynamic approaches to adaptation such as rewilding across a network of sites.

To read the research paper in full, click here.

Ten Golden Rules for Reforestation to Optimise Carbon Sequestration, Biodiversity Recovery and Livelihood Benefits


Keeping with the Biodiversity theme, scientists at Kew and Botanic Gardens Conservation International alongside other international partners released a new research paper on 21 January 2021 highlighting issues with large scale tree planting and set out ten 'golden rules' for reforestation. These are as follows:

(1) Protect existing forest first;

(2) Work together (involving all stakeholders);

(3) Aim to maximize biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals;

(4) Select appropriate areas for restoration;

(5) Use natural regeneration wherever possible;

(6) Select species to maximize biodiversity;

(7) Use resilient plant material (with appropriate genetic variability and provenance);

(8) Plan ahead for infrastructure, capacity and seed supply;

(9) Learn by doing (using an adaptive management approach); and

(10) Make it pay (ensuring the economic sustainability of the project)

The paper goes on to detail potential strategies involving reforestation with an emphasis on the role local communities can play.

To read the paper in full, click here.

Two Thirds of People Around the World said Climate Change is a Global Emergency


The result of one of the largest opinion polls on climate change was released on 26 January 2021. 

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) questioned 1.2 million people in 50 countries, many of them young. The results span 50 countries covering 56% of the world's population!

The poll found that the United Kingdom and Italy had the highest proportion of people saying there is a climate emergency (both with 81 percent), followed by Japan (79 percent). 77 percent of the those saying there is a climate emergency in the UK also responded to say that everything that necessary should be done, and urgently in response. The agreement was also broadly consistent across all ages as well.

To read the report in full, click here.