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Leicester making good progress on cutting carbon, but still faces huge challenge

Published on Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Earth

LEICESTER is making good progress in reducing its carbon footprint, but faces huge challenges in its new goal to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Latest figures provided by the Government’s department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show that Leicester’s citywide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2019 were 1,217.8ktCO2. This represents a reduction of 49 per cent on the city’s 1990 baseline of 2,388.3ktCO2.

Since 1990, national carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 41.0 per cent, according to Government figures.

Most of the reduction in Leicester’s carbon emissions have been achieved in the last 15 years, with an estimated 41 per cent reduction since 2005.

Prior to declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the city’s carbon reduction target was 50 per cent by 2025. The latest figures show that the city was on track to achieving this, well ahead of the target date.

However, the city has now set a new and more ambitious goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Leicester City Council has already made good progress in cutting its own carbon emissions, with a 67 per cent reduction in ten years, from 45,458tCO2e in 2009/10 to 15,581 tCO2e in 2020/21.

Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “We are under no illusion about the huge task that we face as a city to become carbon neutral by 2030, or sooner.

“These latest figures – from 2019 – are encouraging. Although we still have a huge amount to do to hit our new and more ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by the end of the decade, we have a good record on carbon reduction which we can continue to build on.

“The launch of the first Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy in 2020 signalled a shift in our ambitions and we have since made massive investment in a range of new and ambitious programmes and projects that to further reduce the city’s carbon footprint and help Leicester achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.”

Since launching the first Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy in 2020, Leicester City Council has led on a range of initiatives and secured external funding representing an investment of over £100million in low carbon initiatives.

This includes:

  • Investment of £13.5million in construction of the UK’s first carbon neutral bus station building as part of the St Margaret’s Gateway regeneration project.
  • Securing over £24million of Government funding through the Salix Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme for a programme of low carbon, energy efficient improvements to more than 90 council buildings, including schools, leisure centres, libraries and community centres.
  • Progress on an ambitious £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport backed by £40million from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF).
  • The introduction of the first eleven electric buses onto the city’s park and ride services.
  • Roll out of the Santander electric hire bike scheme at key locations in and around the city centre. This will be the largest scheme of its kind in the UK.
  • A successful bid for £19million of Government funding towards a £47million investment in increasing the city’s fleet of electric buses to over 100, backed by local bus operators Arriva and FirstBus.
  • The introduction of the UK’s largest network of living roof, bee-friendly bus shelters, in partnership with leading out-of-home advertising and infrastructure company Clear Channel UK
  • Helping schools lead the way in the national Eco-Schools Green flag scheme. In total, 52 schools in the city now have an Eco-Schools Green Flag – the highest number in any local authority area in England.
  • Developing plans to build 38 new A-rated low carbon council houses in the Saffron Lane area and launching a £3.1m programme to fit external wall insulation and other energy efficient measures to about 250 homes – including 80 council houses – by Spring 2022. The council has also recently submitted a bid for over £4million from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to further extend this work across the city.
  • Formal adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by full council. The SDGs recognise that tackling climate change and working to preserve our natural environment must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth.
  • Piloting lamppost charging in residential streets as part of plans to expand the network of electric vehicle charging points across the city.
  • The launch of an ambitious ten-year biodiversity action plan to protect wildlife, conserve habitats and help ensure nature flourishes in Leicester.
  • Planted more than 5,600 new trees, including 600 in a Tiny Forest at Queensmead Primary Academy and nearly 5,000 at Aylestone Meadows and Knighton Park.

Cllr Clarke added: “The launch of the Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy was a powerful call to action. In the last twelve months, we’ve made excellent progress on a number of ambitious projects that will help the city cut its carbon emissions and protect wildlife habitats.

“It is important that the city council leads by example, and does all it can to provide the circumstances to help everyone reduce their own impact – something we are all increasingly looking to do.”

The latest figures from BEIS also show that the calculated carbon footprint for each person living in the city has reduced by 60 per cent since 1990, from an estimated 8.5tCO2 to 3.4tCO2 in 2019.

There’s still time for people in Leicester to make a pledge to take action on climate change and challenge world leaders at COP26 to make a difference by taking part in the Green Hearts from Leicester campaign. To find out more visit www.leicester.gov.uk/greenhearts