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Tackling our carbon footprint


We have an active program to reduce carbon emissions from its buildings and vehicle fleet. This page shows the progress we are making and outlines some of the projects we are delivering.

How we are doing

Our next carbon target is a 45% reduction by 2020. We have made good progress on this since 2008/09, as shown in the graph below.

Carbon management - annual CO2 emissions - graph 2018-19

Since the Council's declaration of a Climate Emergency in February 2019, we have also adopted the target of 60% reduction by 2030. This target is achievable, and we are on track to do so.

Summary of last year's figures

During the 18/19 financial year (April 2018 - March 2019) we have reduced our emissions by almost 47% compared to our 2008/9 baseline. This means that we have beaten our 2020 target early.

Our emissions within this period totalled 56,139 tonnes, which is a decrease of 11.5% when compared to 2018/19.

In financial terms, compared to the business as usual energy and fuel costs if we had not embarked upon a carbon reduction programme, there was an annual saving of more than £12 million.

Where our emissions come from

Everything we do has an effect on the environment we live in; from heating and lighting our leisure centres to collecting refuse or cutting grass. All of our services are responsible for emitting harmful greenhouse gases which together produce a significant overall carbon footprint.

In all of our personal lives we generate a carbon footprint by the decisions we make, such as how we heat and power our homes, what food we buy, what we spend our money on, and how we travel. Choosing the low carbon option can make a big difference in the long term.

Durham County Council reports its carbon footprint to central Government as CO2 equivalent (CO2e), in line with DEFRA guidelines on reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. The scope of this report relates to the six common greenhouse gases generated by the council's operations, which are:

  • Buildings owned and used by the council, including schools, leisure centres, library and offices
  • Fleet vehicles owned and used by the council, such as refuse collection vehicles
  • Staff business mileage, for cars, trains and air travel
  • Street lighting.

 The scope excludes:

  • Domestic properties and council owned housing
  • Staff commuting to and from work
  • Buildings owned by us which are leased to and operated by third parties such as industrial units.
  • Procurement of goods and services
  

Annual Emissions (tonnes CO2e)

  

08-09

~

14-15

15-16

16-17

17-18

18-19

Scope 1

Solid Fuel (Wood pellets)

91

~

124

35

32

17

11

 

Liquid fuels

511

~

790

70

56

387

383

 

Gaseous fuels

34,371

~

25,011

24,778

21,628

22,182

21,239

 

Vehicle fleet

11,596

~

10,550

11,287

11,547

11,018

10,345

 

Total

46,569

~

36,475

36,171

33,263

33,605

31,978

Scope 2

Purchased electricity (Grid)

51,399

~

42,571

38,550

30,969

25,241

19,220

 

Total

51,399

~

42,571

38,550

30,969

25,241

19,220

Scope 3

Business Travel

3,804

~

2,891

2,562

2,344

1,938

2,411

 

Electricity Distribution

3,996

~

3,281

3,177

2,801

2,676

2,531

 

Total

7,800

~

6,171

5,739

5,145

4,613

4,942

Total emissions

105,769

~

85,217

80,460

69,377

63,459

56,139

Annual Change

0%

~

-3.9%

-5.6%

-13.7%

-8.6%

-11.5%

Total Change

0%

~

-19.4%

-23.9%

-34.4%

-40.0%

-46.9%

Our carbon footprint has been stated for the baseline year and most recent five years. Data for 2009/10 to 2013/14 can be made available on request.

What we are doing

We are looking at a wide range of projects. These include:

  • An extensive street lighting LED replacement program
  • £2 million to retrofit buildings to improve energy efficiency
  • Ensuring new buildings achieve a very high level of energy efficiency and monitoring energy efficiency changes using real time data and annual Display Energy Certificates
  • A dedicated team who work with schools to help staff and pupils understand their energy use and work towards reducing it
  • Generating renewable energy through schemes such as the Freemans Quay hydroelectricity plant, and more than 35 solar panel installations.
Contact us
Sustainability Carbon and Climate Change
03000 265 545
Our address is:
  • 5th Floor
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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