County Durham's carbon footprint
This page is about the carbon emissions from the whole of County Durham.
For the carbon footprint of the council and its operations, visit the Council's carbon footprint page.
County Durham's carbon footprint is calculated by UK government at the end of each calendar year. It takes around 18 months for the calculations to be completed for every local authority area in the country, so the most recent data we have are for 2020. This webpage will be updated at the end of July each year with the latest data.
The Climate Emergency Target for the council is to investigate what it would take to make County Durham carbon neutral by 2045, and pledge to achieve this. That means that in the year 2045, we should not have any carbon emissions that are not being countered by off-setting activities.
|Year||Actual Emissions||Target Emissions|
|Footprint (thousand tonnes CO2)||Reduction (%)||Footprint (thousand tonnes CO2)||Reduction (%)|
Carbon footprint 2020
The county wide carbon footprint is split into five sections; Domestic (38%), Transport (34%), Industrial (17%), Commercial (7%), and Public (5%). Each of those are divided further so that we can determine what proportion of emissions are from heat, electricity, and other sources. The table below shows how the footprint has changed since the baseline year of 1990. In this table Industrial, Commercial, and Public emissions have been brought together as "non-domestic".
|Annual Carbon Emissions|
(thousands of tonnes CO2)
|Source of Emissions||1990 (baseline year)||2005 (mid way)||2020 (most recent)|
|Annual total footprint||4,698||3,491||2,017|
The data in the table show a reduction from 4,700ktCO² to 2,200ktCO² from 1990 to 2020. That's a reduction of 57%. The graph below shows how that reduction has happened year-on-year since 2005.
The chart shows annual carbon emissions from 2005 to 2020. Reduction from the baseline year was 26% in 2005 and progressed steadily to 57% in 2020. The biggest reduction is seen in emissions from electricity, so we need to do more work on heat and transport. The table below contains all of the data used in the chart. All figures are in thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Reduction So Far
The biggest individual segment of the county's footprint is domestic heating, which accounts for 35% of the whole of County Durham's carbon emissions. Heating our homes with gas boilers and other fuels produces almost the same amount of carbon emissions as all road traffic put together. We must work together to reduce these emissions, and all carbon emissions in the county.
Where these emissions come from
Everything we do has an effect on the environment we live in; from heating and lighting our homes to manufacturing goods, scientific research, travel and everything in between. All of our individual actions 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.
County Durham receives its carbon footprint data from central Government as ktCO², thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The scope of this footprint includes:
- All activities carried out in County Durham
- Electricity purchased from the national grid
- Gas purchased through the gas network
- Other heating fuels such as oil or biomass
- Land use such as farming or forestry
- Vehicle fuels including petrol and diesel
- Public and private transport
- Homes, factories, schools, offices, farms, shops, hospitals, and any other buildings.
The footprint excludes:
- Road traffic passing through on the A1
- Rail traffic on the national rail network
Our pledge for County Durham to become Carbon Neutral by 2045 means that, as well as reducing our carbon footprint by stopping emissions being produced, we can work to 'offset' the carbon emissions that we haven't yet stopped. Offsetting emissions means working to remove carbon from the atmosphere (e.g. by planting trees) or to remove the need for someone else to produce carbon emissions (e.g. by exporting renewably generated electricity to the grid).
Carbon Offsetting actions that the Council takes will be considered as part of our work toward making the County Carbon Neutral, rather than tackling the Council's footprint.
The bar chart below shows the amount of emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent that were avoided through Durham County Council's export of renewably generated electricity in the last six financial years. Some of these figures are estimated as some smaller solar arrays do not require export metering.
The chart shows the following figures for each year: 2015/16: 212 tonnes, 2016/17: 190 tonnes, 2017/18: 231 tonnes, 2018/19 182 tonnes, 2019/20, 145 tonnes, 2020/21, 92 tonnes, 2021/22, 124 tonnes. The amount of carbon saved is reducing, not because we are generating less electricity, but because the ordinary grid electricity that we're replacing is becoming less carbon intensive.
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 footprint of our purchased electricity is still the national grid average carbon footprint for reporting purposes, but we can consider that we offset this through this support for renewable generation.
- Sustainability Carbon and Climate Change
- 03000 265 545
Our address is:
- 5th Floor
- County Hall
- County Durham
- United Kingdom
- DH1 5UQ