Cities’ carbon footprint mapped out

Interactive maps showing the total carbon emissions of over 30 British towns and cities, as well as outlining what proportion of the CO2 is produced by businesses, have been produced by the Carbon Trust.

As well as serving to satisfy the curiosity of compulsive carbon watchers, the maps will form the cornerstone of a campaign to encourage the private sector to tackle its emissions.

The maps use data from the National Air Emissions Inventory to build up a picture of the total carbon output of 33 cities and major towns, allowing those viewing the trust’s website to see, at a glance, where the majority of the UK’s carbon is being produced – the South East and the Midlands – and how much of that is down to industrial and commercial activity.

Scotland and North Wales have the lowest levels of carbon emissions.

The trust used a broad definition of business when drawing up its maps, including all emissions except those from domestic sources and transport.

Using these criteria, business in the UK is responsible for approximately 40% of carbon emissions and the trust claims that illustrates how important its role must be in tackling climate change

As might be expected, companies in smaller settlements where the business-to-residential ratio is low and residents rely on private transport tend to contribute a smaller share of the emissions than those in towns and cities while large commercial centres.

Businesses in the tiny city of Newry in Northern Ireland have the lowest share of emissions, at just 26%, followed by those in Brighton and Southend, which both have 33%.

After discounting the anomaly of the City of London – an area with relatively little residential property where over 90% of the emissions can be traced back to the private sector – Sheffield, Leicester and Norwich have the highest rate of business emissions, all at 55%.

The carbon map was designed so cities could better analyse their overall carbon footprint and identify areas where more efforts can be made.

“Business has a critical role to play in tackling climate change as it is responsible for approximately 40% of CO2 emissions in the UK and poor energy efficiency costs business an estimated £2 billion annually,” said Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust.

“Implementing straightforward energy saving measures in the workplace could reduce energy bills by up to 20%, enhance their reputation and drastically cut their carbon footprint.”

The maps can be found at

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie