Newcastle to be first ever city to go carbon neutral

Newcastle is pioneering the first ever programme of turning an entire city carbon neutral, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and residents by introducing ‘clean’ technology and planting trees.

“Our history goes back 200 years of being at the forefront of energy and electricity pioneering – and we treasure that,” Allen Creedy, Newcastle City Council’s Agenda 21 Team Leader, said to edie. The first electric lamp was produced in the city, and the first street to be lit was also in Newcastle. More recently, the first house to be powered entirely by renewable energy is located just outside the city.

Newcastle has 270,000 residents, producing 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, and also has 8,000 businesses also producing their share of emissions, says carbon offset company Future Forests, one of the partners in the scheme.

However, from breakfast on 29 November all this will start to change as the city launches its new programme. The first stage will involve inviting big businesses to become core partners and invest in the scheme. One hundred companies are expected to attend the launch, and businesses will also be invited to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and offset the remainder. Investment in locally based ‘clean’ technology such as solar power are expected to far outweigh investment in the planting of native trees, says Creedy.

Once the scheme is up and running, the general public and organisations such as schools will also be invited to participate.

As such a programme has never been done before, nobody knows how long it will take to make the city carbon neutral, says Creedy. “It could be 20 years; it could be 40 years.” The aim is to win over people’s hearts and minds, he says.

The city’s emissions have been calculated by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. “We’ve been around and made sure we have got it well grounded in science,” said Creedy. Accountants KPMG have also provided analysis of the scheme’s business plan.

The scheme has been given the approval of both the European Union and the UK Government, who will provide technological help. European grants will also be available once the scheme is under way.

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