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Carbon footprint continues overall reduction from baseline year

15 December 2022

Progress is continuing to reduce Cambridgeshire County Council’s Carbon footprint by initiatives such as installing low carbon heating systems - even after a return to pre pandemic levels of service, Members have heard.

The Council’s Carbon Footprint annual report examines the carbon emissions of the County Council in three areas (known as scopes 1, 2 and 3) - these are direct emissions from the council’s own assets, emissions from electricity, and indirect emissions from assets outside its control like treating the whole county’s waste and or commissioning home to school transport.

The Council’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021-22 for all 3 areas amounted to 131,610 tonnes CO2e* (gross). While this is 3% higher than the previous, pandemic year, it is 44% lower than the baseline year of 2018-19.

While a considerable amount of this reduction is linked to the slow down in construction over the past two years, other factors contributing to the decrease include the start of a programme of low carbon heating projects, which sees the council switching sites to air source heat pumps and a range of energy efficiency projects across our property portfolio, such as on-site renewable generation assets (e.g. rooftop solar PV), Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), and installation of LED lighting.

In areas which are totally within the council’s control – such as emissions from gas and oil for its own heating, and emissions from fleet vehicles – the increase was just 1% over the pre- pandemic year, but 19% lower than the baseline year.

CCC Annual GHG emissions since 2018-19

“Inevitably we’ve seen some increases in emissions in the last twelve months compared to 2020-21, when we had nationwide lockdowns, reduced travel and many services closed or working at reduced levels. But even as services returned to pre pandemic levels, I am pleased that we are seeing an overall downward trend, and emissions from some sources have remained lower than before the pandemic, “said Cllr Lorna Dupre, Chair of the County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee. “While we recognise that a slowdown in construction has a lot to do with this, we are working hard on all the construction programmes we commission to build in environmental measures from the start.

“However we do recognise we have more to do, and that is why we have updated plans which are set out in our Climate Change and Environment Strategy and Action Plan.

Cambridgeshire County Council updated its Climate Change and Environment Strategy in 2022, set targets relating to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing the Council’s own ‘scopes 1 (direct) and 2’ (purchased electricity) emissions to net zero by 2030, reducing ‘scope 3’ (indirect) emissions by 50.4% by 2030, and to deliver net zero for the county of Cambridgeshire by 2045.

A comparison of carbon emissions by district is also included in the annual report – where you can clearly see the impact of large peatland areas in East Cambs and Fenland (green) and of the A1 and the A14 in Hunts and South Cambs (light blue).

Cambridgeshire GHG emissions 2020