Greenhouse gas emissions drop in Cambridgeshire during Covid

Cambridgeshire CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2019 according to data provided by the BEIS.

Cambridgeshire CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2019 according to data provided by the Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

Total greenhouse gas emissions in Cambridgeshire have reduced by 40 per cent in 2020/21 compared to last year, according to published data by the Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) in its annual carbon footprint report.

The report shows that between April 1 2020, and March 31 2021, 113,477 tonnes of CO2e was emitted compared to the 188,625 tonnes emitted in 2019/20.

The report highlighted that the drop could be attributed to Covid-19 and lockdowns changing the way people had to work, resulting in less travel and a significant reduction in construction activity.

Before Covid-19, however, CO2 emissions in Cambridgeshire had been steadily declining with a 24 per cent reduction from 2005 to 2019, according to data from the Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), mainly due to the decarbonisation of electricity.

According to the report: "The committee have a good understanding of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions from council activities during 2020-21, to enable monitoring of progress against our climate change targets and that this information is available to the public.”

The CCC targets include reducing direct emissions (e.g. emissions from gas boilers and fleet vehicles) by 50 per cent for 2023 (compared to 2018 levels), reducing indirect emissions (emissions created from assets outside the council's control) by 50.4 per cent by 2030, and delivering the Government’s net-zero carbon target for Cambridgeshire by 2050.

Mayor of St Neots Stephen Ferguson has approved the changes.

Mayor of St Neots Stephen Ferguson has approved the changes. - Credit: SNTC

Chairman of CCC, Cllr Stephen Ferguson, said: "I think we inherited a really strong programme for decarbonisation, but we have decided to put our foot on the accelerator a bit more.

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"The reason why we need to do that quickly is that the longer we leave it, the more it's going to cost to fix the problems and the more it's going to cost to decarbonise and of course, the greater the consequences for our residents."

Ninety-five per cent of all known emissions in Cambridgeshire were indirect emissions from sources such as transport that is not under council control, county waste disposal and land use, land change and forestry (LULUCF).

In Cambridgeshire, according to the most recent data available from the BEIS, CO2
emissions per capita and per km2 area were higher than the national average, with 6.1 million tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2019.

However, excluding LULUCF, which is outside of the council's control, CO2 emissions in Cambridgeshire fall to 4.1 million tonnes, reflective of the national trend that emissions have been gradually declining over the last few years.