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The council's carbon footprint


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

Our operational carbon footprint

This page looks at the carbon emissions caused by the council's operations.

For carbon emissions from County Durham as a whole, see County Durham's carbon footprint.

We have been running an active program to reduce carbon emissions from our buildings and vehicle fleet for over ten years. This page shows the progress we are making and outlines some of the projects we are delivering.

How we are doing

We set a number of targets for carbon reduction. Our goal for 2019/20 was met early, the target was 45% reduction by 2020, but we achieved 47% reduction by 2019.

Our next carbon target is an 70% reduction by the end of the financial year 2024/25. We have made good progress on this since 2008/09, as shown in the graph below. 

Annual CO2 emissions graph 2019-20

The graph above shows annual carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from council operations. The graph shows a steady decline in emissions from 2008/09 to 2019/20, reaching an overall reduction of 51% by the most recent year.

Since the council's declaration of a Climate Emergency in February 2019, we have also adopted the target of 80% reduction by 2030. This target is achievable, and we are on track to do so.

Summary of last year's figures

During the 2019/20 financial year (April 2019 to March 2020) we have reduced our emissions by 51% compared to our 2008/09 baseline.

Our emissions within this period totalled 51,787 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is a decrease of 6.8% when compared to 2018/19. 

Where our emissions come from

Everything the council does 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 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (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)

  

2008/09

~

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

Scope 1

Solid Fuel (Wood pellets)

91

~

35

32

17

11

15

 

Liquid fuels

511

~

70

56

387

383

632

 

Gaseous fuels

34,371

~

24,778

21,628

22,182

21,239

22,052

 

Vehicle fleet

11,596

~

11,287

11,547

11,018

10,345

9,545

 

Total

46,569

~

36,171

33,263

33,605

31,978

32,245

Scope 2

Purchased electricity (Grid)

51,399

~

38,550

30,969

25,241

19,220

16,845

 

Total

51,399

~

38,550

30,969

25,241

19,220

16,845

Scope 3

Business Travel

3,804

~

2,562

2,344

1,967

1,865

1,267

 

Electricity Distribution

3,996

~

3,177

2,801

2,676

2,531

1,430

 

Total

7,800

~

5,739

5,145

4,643

4,396

2,697

Total emissions

105,769

~

80,460

69,377

63,488

55,593

51,787

Annual Change

0%

~

-5.6%

-13.7%

-8.5%

-12.4%

-6.8%

Total Change

0%

~

-24%

-34%

-40%

-47%

-51%

Our carbon footprint has been stated for the baseline year and most recent five years. Data for 2009/10 to 2014/15 can be made available on request.

Other emissions

Our published carbon footprint does not include emissions refrigerant gasses, despite these having very high global warming potential. This is because they were not included in the baseline, so we have chosen to exclude them from our measurements in order to retain consistency.

Instead, our refrigerant gas emissions are reported separately, below. In 2019-20, they added 276,465kg of carbon dioxide equivalent to our total emissions.

GasAmount lost (kg)Carbon Factor (kgCO2e / kg Gas)kgCO2e
R407A762,107160,553
R410A542,088112,334
R3256753,578
Total276,465

We intend to reduce this figure in line with the rest of our carbon footprint, and in keeping with our Climate Emergency Targets.

Renewable electricity

From April 2020, the electricity purchased by Durham County Council from the national grid will be "100% renewable". This does not mean that our electricity consumption no longer has a carbon footprint. The electricity that we receive through the grid is not really any different, but we are using our purchasing power to support renewable technologies and discourage carbon intensive electricity generation. 

The carbon factor of our purchased electricity is still the national grid average carbon factor for reporting purposes.

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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