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Council on target to become carbon neutral as it cuts its emissions

Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for climate change has pledged to continue helping Cornwall work towards becoming carbon neutral after a new report shows the council is ahead of its target to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

Since 2018 the council has recorded its greenhouse gas emissions across its operations using a system called GHG Protocols, the world’s most widely used system to manage and measure emissions. 

In its annual Emissions Inventory report on its total carbon emissions in 2021-22, figures show the unitary authority emitted 10,058 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO²e), representing a 24 per cent drop in emissions since 2018. 

It means the council is on track to meeting its target for becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030. 

The council also monitors emissions levels across Cornwall through government data collected two years in arrears and assessed by the Centre for Energy and Environment at University of Exeter.  

In 2019, when the council declared a climate emergency, emissions for Cornwall fell by 3% from the previous year, which falls significantly short of the annual reductions required for achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. 

Cllr Martyn Alvey, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for environment and climate change, said: “As our world leaders meeting this week at COP27 are well aware, keeping global warming below the 1.5 degrees threshold will require all countries to reduce their emissions. In Cornwall we are determined to play our part and are leading the way. 

“As a council we are already reducing our emissions significantly and we will continue giving support to residents, businesses and our partners to help Cornwall work towards becoming the country’s first net-zero region. 

“While progress has been made in Cornwall as a whole, the scale of the challenge is unprecedented and requires us to go further faster if we are to realise our ambitions. 

The council’s latest Emissions Inventory for the 2021-22 financial year shows that business travel remains well below pre-pandemic levels and below target reductions set in its climate change action plan in 2019. 

Emissions from electricity have seen significant reductions due to the council’s continued investment in improving the efficiency of its buildings and the use of renewable energy. It is also progressing with the replacement of Cornwall’s 50,000 street lights with new LED bulbs which will reduce the energy consumption by over 50%. 

Gas and oil usage has increased partly due to delays caused by the pandemic in decommissioning several large council offices which continued to consume utilities in that period. 

While, the latest annual results show a small increase on the previous year, which recorded exceptionally low rates in many areas due to the effects of the pandemic, the overall reduction of the council’s emissions since 2018 of 24 per cent puts the council on course to meet its carbon neutral commitment by 2030. 

Some of the key projects the council has carried out to reduce the emissions includes installing solar panels at the Cornish archives centre Kresen Kernow, using e-bike and switching the first 20 of its fleet of vehicle to electric. 

Deputy council leader Cllr David Harris, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for resources, said: “While we can’t take our foot off the pedal in terms of reducing our emissions, it is positive that our council emission levels have not risen back to those before the pandemic so we are sustaining the emissions savings we have made.” 

Find out more about the council’s climate change programme.


Story posted November 8, 2022


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