What is the council doing to tackle climate change?

    Torbay Council are making good progress on our own Carbon Neutral Council Action Plan with a range of projects including making our buildings more energy efficient, reviewing our fleets and planning how to transition them over to low/zero emission vehicles, installing charging points in car parks for electric vehicles and developing solar farms. You can read the Council Action Plan on our website here.

    How can I play my part to tackle climate change?

    There are lots of things you can do about climate change from calculating your carbon footprint to walking more, buying green energy, switching to go car free, eating a plant-based diet, hang-drying clothes, recycling and upgrading light bulb, to name but a few ideas.

    A great place to start is to look at the Devon Climate Emergency What Can I do section of the website(Top Tips for Everyone – Devon Climate Emergency) and Torbay Council’s Take Action page here. 

    What is climate change and what is causing it?

    According to the MET Office, Climate change refers to a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures. Since the mid-1800s, humans have contributed to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. This causes global temperatures to rise, resulting in long-term changes to the climate

    In the 11,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature across the world was stable at around 14°C. The Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1800s when humans began to burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for fuel.

    Burning fossil fuels produces energy, but also releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous monoxide into the air. Over time, large quantities of these gases have built up in the atmosphere.

    Once in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide form a 'blanket' around the planet. This blanket traps the heat from the sun and causes the earth to heat up.

    This effect was noticed as far back as the 1980s. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up to provide governments with information to tackle climate change.

    Evidence has shown that the high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the leading cause of increasing global temperatures.

    Scientists have been able to rule out natural events as causes of climate change, such as volcanic activity, changes in solar activity, or natural sources of CO2. These may, however, have a very small effect, on top of human contributions. 

    In one of their most recent report, the IPCC states that human activity is unequivocally the cause of climate change[1]. (Source MET Office www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/climate-change/what-is-climate-change

    What is a climate emergency?

    A climate emergency means a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it. Torbay Council declared a climate emergency on 19 June 2019.

    The declaration means that the Council is serious about taking action locally. By taking action locally there will be wider economic, social, health and environmental benefits for Torbay. The Torbay Climate Partnership and the development of the Torbay Climate Emergency Action Plan are just some the actions begin taken to help tackle the climate emergency in Torbay. For information on what the Council is doing see here

    For a comprehensive account of climate change, causes and impacts visit the MET Office and Committee on Climate Change webpages for more detail 

    What do we mean by a 20-minute neighbourhood?

    You might have heard the term 20-minute neighbourhood and we thought it was important that we clarify what is meant by this, as we are aware of some different interpretations of this.

    The consultation includes an action to carry out a 20-minute neighbourhoods audit for Torbay.  We will be looking at what is accessible to residents within 20 minutes of their home by walking, cycling or wheeling (including wheelchairs and mobility scooters), or by public transport if necessary.  We want our residents to, wherever possible, be able to access their daily needs whether that be education, shopping, parks or other uses without having to rely on a private car.  If places can provide these facilities then residents can have easier access, reducing reliance on the car, supporting healthier lifestyles, allowing local businesses to thrive and reducing social isolation.  

    The results of the audit will help inform our future decisions on transport infrastructure and services, such as cycleways or bus services. It will also help us check through the planning system that these services are in the right places where the community needs them, as well as ensuring we do not promote unsustainable remote housing developments that do not meet future residents’ needs.

    For clarity, the audit will not be a tool for Council to impose restrictions on movement, and there are no plans for this in the future either.  

    The concept is about creating a liveable community across Torbay, where people can thrive in a healthy environment and have choice over how they want to travel.  The audit work will help the Council to make future decisions about planning and transport matters, as well as supporting investment in the right areas where more facilities are needed.