The Challenge

Carbon-rich fossils, often called fossil fuels, are a type of energy source we dig up from the ground and burn to make power. When we burn coal, oil, and natural gas, a lot of carbon dioxide  (a greenhouse gas) is released into the air. This extra carbon in the air makes our atmosphere hold more heat. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main reason the Earth is getting warmer is emissions from fossil fuels.

Right now, 80% of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels. It’s not just factories and vehicles; about a quarter of carbon emissions in the UK come from the energy we use in our houses.

Using fossil fuels also brings economic and security problems. As we use up more and more of these fuels, we become more reliant on politically sensitive regions, like Russia and Saudi Arabia. Making energy from fossil fuels is getting more expensive and less predictable. This leads to energy crises and rising prices, as we have experienced since 2021.

Renewable energy represents the path toward a more stable and sustainable future for us all. But we also need to find ways to use much less energy.

Our Future Vision

We reduce how much energy we use and get more of it from renewable sources. Every home is super-insulated, and all the new homes are built to the highest standards for efficiency. Every south-facing roof, from homes to big buildings like hospitals and schools, has solar panels. This means we use a lot of our energy when the sun is shining, making the most of this free energy. As a result, our bills are much lower.

We have wind turbines on the hills around our town, and they’re owned by the community. Investing in these turbines is a much better choice than putting money in the bank. They not only generate power but also add to the beauty of our landscape. Totnes is proud to say we export more energy than we use.

Our habits have changed, and we’re all careful not to waste energy. The National Grid, which manages our electricity, has been upgraded. It’s designed to work with many smaller energy sources. This really is ‘power for the people!’

How we can all make a difference


  • Attend a monthly advice session in the Hub with an Energy Advisor from South Dartmoor Community Energy.
  • Calculate your carbon footprint using an online calculator.
  • Sign up for TRESOC’s Local Energy Club for a cheaper, locally generated renewable energy supply.


  • Support local planning applications for renewable energy sources like onshore wind turbines and solar panels.
  • Install solar panels on community buildings and local businesses.
  • Set up Energy Clubs to develop a cheaper, locally generated renewable energy supply.


  • Move our money (bank account, pension fund, investments) away from companies who invest in fossil fuels.
  • Vote for local politicians (Town Council, District Council, MPs) who support increased investment in renewable energy.
  • Switch to an electricity based energy system powered by renewable energy.

Celebrating Local Heroes

Useful Resources

This section includes videos and downloadable leaflets that you might find helpful to inspire your personal climate actions. Please note, Totnes Climate Hub does not take responsibility for any of the content provided in these resources.