Net-zero by 2030: Decarbonisation plans presented to Exeter City Council

A plan detailing how the city of Exeter can achieve net-zero emissions through reduced energy consumption, renewables uptake and the promoting of healthy living have been presented to the city council for approval.

The plan will be refreshed at the end of the year to account for impact caused by the coronavirus

The plan will be refreshed at the end of the year to account for impact caused by the coronavirus

In July 2019, Exeter declared a climate emergency and responded by setting a goal of making the city carbon neutral by 2030.

Exeter City Futures, an independent community interest company working with the council on the decarbonisation plan, has submitted the “Plan for a Net Zero Exeter” to the city council. The plan was developed following engagement with a range of businesses and institutions across the city.

The plan details how the city can transform its transport, energy consumption habits and deliver healthy homes for residents while promoting green space and local produce as part of a just transition to net-zero.

The organisation notes that businesses in the city could reduce emissions by 34,000 tonnes annually by implementing carbon reduction measures. Up to 53,000 tonnes of carbon could be saved if Exeter generated all its electricity from renewables, while 140,000 tonnes of carbon could be avoided if Exeter were to exploit the maximum potential for renewable generation.

Exeter City Futures’ managing director Dr Liz O’Driscoll said: “Despite the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, I’m extremely pleased to present the Net Zero Exeter plan to Exeter City Council and the city on how Exeter can be carbon neutral by 2030.

“It has been four years in the making with collaboration with the many different communities, institutions, organisations and individuals who make up our city. This plan represents the contribution of hundreds of businesses and individuals across Exeter, who have engaged with us to set out the action plan to become a carbon-neutral city and ensure it remains one of the best places to live in the UK. Everyone across Exeter has a role to play, this isn’t something that can be delivered by any local authority alone.”

Annual updates

Exeter had set up a collaborative governance structure to gain the opinions and understanding of businesses and citizens to act as a ‘city office’ that would help develop its carbon-neutral ambitions in a coordinated approach.

According to Exeter City Futures, the plan will be refreshed at the end of the year to account for impact caused by the coronavirus. Annual refreshes will be implemented as the city begins to introduce low-carbon projects. Exeter University, for example, is part of a group of 20 UK universities to agree a £50m deal to purchase renewable energy over a 10-year period through the Energy Consortium (TEC). The PPA has been structured with Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) from British windfarms.

An online introduction to the roadmap will be issued in due course to enable a wider discussion on delivering the city’s carbon-neutral goal. The council was hoping to host a Carbon Neutral Festival in 2020, but that has been derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Liz O’Driscoll, of Exeter City Futures, has appeared on edie’s Sustainable Business Covered podcast to discuss the launch of a 12-month campaign aimed at tackling air pollution in one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities.

edie has published multiple in-depth features, discussing how cities plan to reach net-zero emissions, and the role of business in achieving those aims. You can read more here.

Matt Mace



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