Skip to main content

Council marks progress to Net Zero

23 January 2024

Cambridgeshire County Council has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, as it seeks to become a Net Zero organisation by 2030, councillors on the Environment and Green Investment Committee heard on Thursday (18 January).

This is the fifth year in which the council has published its annual carbon footprint report, measuring greenhouse gas emissions from the council’s own activities as well as emissions from the whole of Cambridgeshire. The council publishes these findings because it is committed to transparency and openness in sharing its work to tackle climate change.

There was a 47 per cent reduction in known greenhouse gas emissions produced by the council in 2022-23 compared to baseline figures. A total of 99,104 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) was produced in that year compared to 185,621 tCO2e over 2018-19, according to the council’s annual carbon footprint report.

The report identifies direct emissions like those from the council’s heating systems and vehicles as well as emissions that are indirectly caused by the authority’s activities such as services provided by contractors or employees’ travel for work. Indirect emissions also arise from disposing of household waste. The council aims to be a Net Zero organisation for direct emissions by 2030.

1,412 tonnes of CO2e were directly produced by the council over 2022-23, a 34 per cent reduction on the previous year. Organisational carbon savings have come from switching some highways fleet vehicles to biofuel and a heat decarbonisation programme which has seen old gas and oil boilers replaced with air source heat pumps at 22 council buildings with more under way.

Whilst indirect emissions from the purchase of goods and services saw a 21 per cent rise compared to the previous year, emissions for this area have reduced significantly compared to the baseline year 2018-19.

The council also purchases a green electricity tariff, which means its electricity supplies are all generated from zero carbon sources. Currently some sources of carbon emissions from the goods and services we purchase are not included in calculations due to a lack of available data. Officers are working to include these areas in future Carbon Footprint calculations, where possible.

The county council also aims for Cambridgeshire to become a net zero county by 2045, five years ahead of the government’s legally binding commitment.

Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee, Councillor Lorna Dupre said: “There’s a lot to celebrate in the latest carbon footprint report. It clearly shows our commitment to reducing our direct carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 – and the progress we’re making towards that goal.

“There are lots of opportunities for us – and for local authorities across the country – to help tackle climate change. As well as recognising our organisation’s carbon footprint, we’re asking our suppliers to sign up to our Climate Charter. This asks them to count their own carbon emissions and to make other sustainability pledges. We’re also ensuring all our staff take account of climate and nature as they carry out their roles.

“If the whole of Cambridgeshire is to reach net zero by 2045, that will need to be a real community effort by households, parish councils, voluntary organisations, community groups, and businesses across the county. It’s great to see the speed at which interest in this is growing.”

A national Net Zero Review last year highlighted the importance of local government leadership and place-based action to help combat the climate crisis.

You can read the full paper on our website, and rewatch the committee meeting on our YouTube channel.