Good News – Calderdale’s emissions continue on downwards!

Elsewhereon the Calderdale’s Energy Future website we describe the technical complexities of how carbon reduction targets (whether international, national or local) are set, and how Calderdale’s progress towards its own target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 is measured. The UK government has also set up the systems which identify just how much CO2 each local authority area generates or is responsible for every year since 2005.

But leaving all that to the policy ‘wonks’, just how well are we doing? It’s a real question because in the autumn of 2012, just as the new CEF Panel was discussing how to start implementing the new Council strategy, it got the unwelcome news that Calderdale’s emissions had stopped their slow descent between 2005-9 and had actually increased – by 65,000 tonnes and 5.4% – in 2010. The explanation was that factors beyond our influence were to blame – a combination of colder weather and a change in ‘the carbon intensity of electricity generation’ – but there were certainly some anxieties as we awaited the next set of figures, for 2011, which were published by DECC in July. If that rebound had continued, Calderdale would increasingly be off course towards the 2020 destination of its minus 40% carbon reduction target, and with an ever shorter period to achieve it.

But the good news is that our CO2 emissions in 2011 dropped by 88,0000 tonnes (6.9%), and at 1.19 million tonnes are now below the earlier 2009 figure of 1.21 million tonnes from which they temporarily spiked upwards in 2010. In the seven years from the 2005 baseline of 1.395 million tonnes, CO2 emissions which can be influenced locally have now fallen by 205,000 tonnes or 14.7%; and if they were to continue to decline at the same average rate to 2020 they would reach around 0.94 million tonnes or 32.6% below the baseline. That’s still around 100,000 tonnes above the target of 840,000 tonnes CO2 but within striking distance of it. Per capita emissions have dropped from 7.1 tonnes per person to 5.8 tonnes.

The difference between the periods before and after 2012 is that from 2005-12 we weren’t deliberately and systematically planning the reduction of Calderdale’s emissions. From now to 2020 that’s the whole purpose of the Calderdale’s Energy Future strategy and partnership, so our efforts ought to be more successful.

But let’s not forget there could be a sting in the tail: since the emissions measurements only become available two years in arrears it’s still possible that next year we might get a nasty surprise. So there’s no room for complacency.