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Cycling in Exeter

Recent changes include the installation of "traffic filters" which limit vehicular access but allow cycles to pass through.

Exeter scientists support council action on low-carbon travel

Climate experts from the University of Exeter have written to Devon County Council in support of action to encourage low-carbon travel.

The letter – signed by 66 climate scientists, PhD graduates and other professionals working in the climate change area – supports the "continuation and expansion" of recent changes that aim to encourage cycling and cut carbon emissions.

These changes include the installation of "traffic filters" which limit vehicular access but allow cycles to pass through.

Many of the signatories are part of Exeter's Global Systems Institute.

The full text of the letter is below:


Dear Councillors

Exeter climate scientists support traffic filters for encouraging low carbon travel

We are climate scientists, professionals and graduates of the University of Exeter, one of the leading centres in the world for climate change research. We are also citizens of Exeter and the surrounding area. We are writing to express our support for measures that Devon County Council has already begun to take on our local road systems as a contribution to our community’s efforts to reduce our impact on the climate, and for a continuation and strengthening of these measures. We believe these local measures are consistent with the knowledge developed here in Exeter on the impacts of climate change and need to take action to avoid the worst of its impacts, and would like to see them continued and strengthened.

Our research conducted in Exeter shows beyond doubt that humans are causing the climate to change, both here and around the world. The impacts of this are already being seen in the form of more severe heatwaves, more intense wildfires, rising sea levels and increased heavy rainfall bringing greater risk of flooding. Many species of animals and plants are also being impacted. Our research also shows that if left unchecked, ongoing heating of the climate will have profound and severe consequences. 

The international community has recognised the need to avoid this by establishing the Paris Agreement, which commits all nations to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The UK has set itself the target of bringing its domestic carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, and Devon’s District Councils have all announced their aim to address climate change by declaring a Climate Emergency, as has the University of Exeter. Exeter City Council has set the city the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.

We have been pleased to see that Devon County Council took advantage of funding made available by the government to implement alterations to some of Exeter and Devon’s roads, for example by installing traffic filters which limit vehicular access but allow cycles to pass through. This has clearly been successful in encouraging more people to use cycling and walking as a means of local travel, which is a very positive step towards reducing our community’s carbon emissions and hence reduce our impact on the climate. It also has direct health benefits, as it contributes to reduced air pollution and encourages more people to take exercise, which helps tackle the growing obesity crisis in the UK. 

We strongly support the continuation and expansion of these measures, with appropriate adjustments to address specific improvement needs. These are important first steps in tackling climate change, and reversing them would be contrary to the Council’s previous pledges and send out the wrong messages. As leading scientists in the field of climate change, we are proud of our association with the city of Exeter and county of Devon, and would very much like to see our community set an example to the rest of the world by continuing to take pro-active steps to reduce our impact on the climate. 

We understand that the current measures will be reviewed on October 13th. We ask that you ensure that your decision is consistent with the council’s previous declaration of a Climate Emergency, and give priority to the consideration of environmental and health benefits. We hope that we will be able to proudly say that our local authority has properly understood the implications of the world-leading science developed here, and taken appropriate action.

Professor Richard Betts MBE, Chair in Climate Impacts

Dr Penelope Maher, Climate Scientist

Lina Mercado, Associate Professor

Rayanne Vitali, PhD in Earth System Science

Neill Mackay, Climate Researcher

Angela Gallego-Sala, Prof in Ecosystems and Biochemical Cycles

Dr Jesse F. Abrams, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Paul Kim, PhD student

Andrew Gilbert

Ross Castle

Timothy Lam, PhD Student

Laura Owen

Prof Mat Collins

Matthew Priestley - Climate Scientist

Jack Oughton

Ruth Geen, Research Fellow

Toby Pennington, Professor, University of Exeter and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Dr James Dyke Assistant Director Global Systems Institute

Rebecca Varney

Anne Nicholls, Global Systems Institute Administrator

Ned Williams, PhD researcher in high resolution climate modelling

Xiaoyu Xiong, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Matthew Henry

Andrew Cox - PhD Candidate in Physical Geography

Kate Baker, Research Fellow

George Manville, PhD Student

Tom Powell, Research Fellow

Lucy Rowland, Associate Professor

Dr Jamie Shutler, Associate Professor in Earth observation

Ruth Chapman, PhD student

Shenan Grossberg, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Exeter Climate Systems, University of

Joseph Clarke, PhD Researcher

Dr Jonathan Beverley, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ted Feldpausch, Associate Professor

Dunia H. Urrego, Senior Lecturer

Andrea Rochner, PhD candidate in Physical Geography

Marianne Pietschnig, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Carolina Duran Rojas, Software Engineer

Theo Economou, Senior Lecturer

Daniel Williams, PhD Student

Holly Ayres

Mayra Rodriguez, PhD Candidate

Dr Jemma Shipton

Lilly Damany-Pearce, Graduate Research Assistant

Jennifer Catto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science

Rob Chadwick, Lecturer in the Global Systems Institute

Sarah Baker, Researcher

Denis Sergeev, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Claudio Sanchez

Anna Harper

Andy Hartley, PhD Graduate

Paul Halloran, Senior Lecturer in the College of Life and Environmental Science

Dr Anna Łosiak, MSC Fellow.

Rosemary Eade, Climate Scientist

Femke Nijsse

Professor Peter Cox

Sian Hyland, Climate Science PhD Student

Alex West, PhD Student

Professor David Stephenson, Head of Exeter Climate Systems

Arie Louwerse

Dr Stefan Siegert, Lecturer in Mathematics

Dr Andy Wiltshire, Climate Scientist

Teuntje Hollaar, PhD

Chris Dalby, PhD

Catherine Bradshaw, Lecturer

Dr Doug McNeall, Lecturer

Date: 9 October 2020

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