Calling All Devon Residents! Attention Please! We are in a Global Climate Emergency and the Time for Change is Now!

by Suzanne Harris

Suzanne Harris, Member of the Devon Climate Assembly

Receiving the email that confirmed I had been selected alongside 69 other Devon residents to form a Climate Assembly Group was definitely my Charlie Bucket moment- you must remember the kid who got the final golden ticket to enter Mr. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? I mean, who wouldn’t be thrilled to represent our beautiful county and get the ball rolling on some serious, climate-focused debates? 

Like most global citizens I have been concerned about our climate crisis for a while now. I wanted to hear the statistics and be inspired to consider new and creative ways of tackling areas of climate change as soon as possible, I wasn’t disappointed! In fact I’m delighted to report that some of my preconceived ideas were turned on their head! 

Our mission was to make some considered recommendations around clean energy, retrofitting of buildings and reducing car use whilst maintaining mobility. We were presented with a wide range of facts, figures and quite frankly alarming data, from a selection of experts in these three main areas.  

I was in the mobility group and our brief was to make car use less attractive whilst maintaining mobility. It occurred to me that if we could make using cars less seem MORE attractive (do you see what I did there?), then just a slight shift and the message has a really positive spin to it. If you are wanting to implement change you have to make it sound ambitious but also credible, and tapping into people’s self-belief is key.  

We explored lots of possibilities and discussed many at length in our small break-out groups which was a really interesting part of the process. I found it hugely empowering to hear other people’s experiences and views and then let them take shape with my own ideas. After all, it is human action that has led our planet to this current state of climate emergency, so it makes sense that we find possible solutions by connecting and communicating together. 

I couldn’t help but think that our shared experience of being in lock-downs recently has afforded us a precious moment of time to re-think what values are important to us, as nations, communities, families and individuals. Most of us will have had the opportunity to use our cars less, and the benefits to us, our wildlife and our climate have been enormous. Many of us have experimented with new ways of moving around and getting fitter at the same time. I discovered cold water swimming which may not be an ideal way to travel from A to B, but it definitely helped me to switch my reset button and be more appreciative of our astonishing planet. 

Being a part of Devon’s Climate Assembly was an amazing, eye-opening experience that has re-kindled my passion to do everything I can to minimise my carbon footprint. Whilst the data we heard was shocking I came away feeling positive and hopeful that each and every one of us can make changes to our lifestyles to go some way to address the climate emergency that we all face. That said, it is imperative that clear, accurate information is accessible so that everyone can feel empowered to make these changes happen as soon as possible.