Seven things you probably didn’t know about the UK’s regional carbon emissions

With air quality charges and a phase-out of older, polluting vehicles set to come into effect, edie trawls new data from the Government and vehicle finance provider Moneybarn to highlight seven surprising statistics regarding local authority efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

One month from now, the world’s “toughest” emission standard of any world city will enter into force in London. In February 2017, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed that a £10 T-Charge to help curb air pollution in the capital would begin in October.

Since then, both the Scottish and UK Governments have committed to phase-out the use of older diesel vehicles as part of a wider initiative to improve national air quality levels and meet an overarching 80% carbon reduction commitment by 2050.

Although transport is just one area of the decarbonisation process, it acts as the highest source of the UK’s carbon emissions, and is also one of the sectors making the least progress on the low-carbon transition.

New analysis from Moneybarn has mapped the UK’s carbon performance across regions and local authorities. Using analysis provided by the vehicle finance firm and by examining recent data sourced from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), edie brings you seven things you may not know about carbon performances across the nation.

1) Greater London is the third best performing area ‘per head’

Despite parts of London breaching air pollution limits five days into 2017, the city’s transport system and upscaling of low-emission buses and taxis has improved overall performance.

Unsurprisingly Greater London has the highest overall emissions amongst all local authorities and regions, accountable for 32,467 kilotonnes of carbon according to Moneybarn. However, with an estimated population of 8.6 million, the region only emits 3.7 tonnes of carbon per head, making it the third best performing region in the UK behind Suffolk and one other area.

2) Northumberland has slashed emissions by 261% in a decade

Ahead of Greater London and Suffolk for carbon performance per head is Northumberland. In fact, Northumberland is the lowest emitter in the UK both in terms of the tonnes of CO2 produced per person and its total CO2 emissions.

Large industrial power station conversions that now export electricity to national grid users has helped the region reduce its reliance on old generators, instead tapping into the abundant energy supply of nearby windfarms. The BEIS data covers emissions from 2005 to 2015 and found that the area reduced emissions by 261% in that time frame – equating to -7 tonnes of carbon per head.

3) Rutland alone at the bottom for carbon performance

Between Leicester and Peterborough lies the landlocked county of Rutland in the East Midlands. Despite only emitting around 1,000 kilotonnes of carbon, the county has a population of around 38,000 making it the highest emitting area of the UK per person.

According to Moneybarn, carbon emissions sit at 27.5 tonnes per person, double that of the next two highest emitters per person, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire.

4) Cornwall has the highest contribution from vehicle emissions

Fourth on the list of highest carbon emitters in the UK is Cornwall, with the 551,000 people living in the region emit roughly 10 tonnes of CO2 per person. However, it seems the real downfall of the region is a lack of investment into green transport initiatives.

Whereas Greater Manchester (seventh on the list of lowest emitters) and the West Midlands (eighth lowest) have both introduced a variety of transport initiatives, Cornwall is yet to venture into this area. As a result, Cornwall has the highest contribution of emissions from vehicles in the UK at 27%.

5) Wales escapes the average for national emissions

Overall, CO2 per capita emissions for the UK sit at 5.9 tonnes per person. While England comes in at slightly less than the average (5.6 tonnes), Wales’ emissions per capita are much higher than other regions.

Emissions from the industrial and commercial sector sit at five tonnes of CO2 per person in Wales, already above the levels of London and nearing the UK average. Overall, Wales CO2 per capita emissions sit at 8.7, the highest of any region. However, this figure still represents a 6% reduction from the previous year, the joint highest amongst the home nations.

6) The North East delivers on emissions reduction

While Wales delivered a 6% reduction on per capita emissions from the previous year – Greater London also recorded an 8% reduction – these levels are still dwarfed by the decarbonisation process in the North East.

As well as delivering a 10% reduction on per capita emissions on the previous year, the region has recorded a 40% reduction in emissions over the last decade, well above the UK’s total reduction of 27%.

7) Just one local authority recorded an increase in emissions

Overall, 390 Local authorities have recorded a decline in emissions since 2005, with 14 delivering emissions reductions of more than 40%. However, one area has actually recorded an increase in emissions in this timeframe.

The unenviable accolade goes to Neath Port Talbot, which has seen industrial and commercial emissions increase by 7% and 10% respectively. The increase is down to increased activity at large industrial sites, including the Tata Steel site. Port Talbot is also one of the 10 towns and cities exceeding WHO air quality limits.

Matt Mace

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