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Climate Change Strategy

Current position and goals

Further to the Climate Emergency declaration in July 2019 a Climate Emergency Task Group was been formed, consisting (at the time) of a minimum of:

  • Cabinet Member responsible for the Environment (in the Chair);
  • Chairs of each Neighbourhood Forum;
  • Representatives of each political group represented on the council (2 Labour Members (including Air Quality Lead), 1 Liberal Democrat Member. 2 Conservative Members);
  • Air Quality Lead;
  • Such other Members, including co-opted members, as the working group shall consider appropriate.

The climate emergency task group has agreed the following aim and objectives:

Aim: To achieve carbon neutrality for the borough of South Ribble by 2030, taking account of any carbon offsetting identified. 


  • To carry out an assessment of current activities, including estimating the current Carbon Footprint of South Ribble.
  • To research best practice and look for innovative new approaches to reducing carbon emissions, carbon off setting and climate mitigation.
  • To produce a Climate Emergency Strategy and way forward for Council to consider.
  • To include those elements contained within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol defined as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Direct emissions shall be taken as including fuel (energy), vehicles, farming, quarrying, waste produced and deposited within the borough from Domestic, Commercial, Industrial, Educational, Farming and leisure activities. It does not include those emissions generated by vehicles travelling through the borough, i.e. on motorways or by railway.
  • To define all emissions and reductions against a base year of 1990.

The task group agreed that a Climate Change Strategy would be developed and presented for Council approval in 2020. This draft strategy forms the initial part of this process.

Current Emissions Profile - The Council (organisation)

The Council is working with One carbon World, a resource partner of the United nations Climate Neutral Now initiative, to quantify the Council's current carbon emissions and identify improvements that can be made.

This systematic, independent and scientific approach to carbon emission calculations is being used by a number of Local Authorities locally and nationally, which in future will also allow the Council to benchmark against others and share best practice and improvements amongst similar Authorities.

The calculation methods used by One Carbon World as per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (13). The initial calculation period used was 1st April 2018 - 31st March 2019. This period was selected as the latest full set of data available for a financial year.

The summary of the One Carbon World report for this period is provided below, a full copy of the report is included as Appendix 3

One Carbon World report 2018 - 2019

The total carbon footprint for this year was 4305.41 tonnes CO2e. (CO2e = Greenhouse Gas equivalent emissions)

The most significant sources of CO2e emissions was identified as fuel use, primarily natural gas, but also diesel and petrol use in Council fleet vehicles.

Figure 2 - Sources of CO2e by emission activity 2018 - 2019

To reduce these emissions, One Carbon World recommended:

  • The amount of natural gas used is reviewed and if possible reduced
  • The amount of diesel / petrol used is reviewed and if possible reduced
  • The off-setting of unavoidable CO2e emissions

This strategy takes account of these recommendations. This same methodology will be used for each financial year between 2019 - 2030 to provide a clear, consistent method of reporting the Council's carbon footprint. This data will be reported to full Council and published on the Council's website.

Current Emissions Profile - The Borough of South Ribble

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published UK local authority estimates of carbon dioxide emissions statistics from 2005 to 2017 (14). Chart 1 below shows the ONS estimated figures for the Borough of South Ribble, from 2005 to 2017

Figure 3 - South Ribble Borough Council CO2 emissions estimates 2005 - 2017 (ktCO2) - Grand Total data (14) Data source - , ktCO2 = Kilotonnes Carbon Dioxide

Data and technical guidance used to establish the 1990 baseline

As Borough specific data from 1990 to 2005 is not available, it has been necessary to estimate the data for the Borough for this period. So, whilst data for the Borough was not available for 1990 - 2005, national data was able to be obtained from Eurostat, a directorate-general of the European Commission (15). This data is shown in Chart 2 below

Figure 4 - Eurostat Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the UK, base year 1990 - Index (1990 = 100%) (15) Data source - Eurostat.

The Eurostat data used to produce Graph 2 shows trends in total man-made emissions of the of greenhouse gases (based on Kyoto protocol) within the UK. It presents annual total emissions in relation to 1990 emissions as a percentage.

Note - The Kyoto protocol includes the 'Kyoto basket' of greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), (hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These gases are aggregated into a single unit using gas-specific global warming potential (GWP) factors. The aggregated greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in units of CO2 equivalents.

Chart 3, below, uses the UK trends within Chart 2 to estimate data and trends for the Borough of South Ribble, providing an estimated baseline of 1990 and showing an estimated trend from 1990 -2005 based, using a method of linear approximation based on the ONS published estimates from 2005 - 2017.

Figure 5 - Estimated carbon emissions data for the Borough of South Ribble from 1990 - 2017 (ktCO2)

Note - this chart is based on estimates using national data. It is for illustrative purposes and should not be regarded as actual measurements for the Borough.

The next part of this document shows the projected different trajectories going forward to 2030.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

In December 2019 the world saw the first reported cases of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. In the following months we witnessed the development of a global pandemic as the World Health Organisation and individual nations reacted to the surge in cases around the world.

Within the UK the national Government lead the response to the pandemic.

On 16th March 2020 the UK Government urged people to work from home, and then just one week later on 23rd March 2020 the UK went into a state of lockdown, with schools and nonessential businesses closing for an undetermined period. The Government stated that all non-essential travel should be avoided.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been and will continue to be a life changing, traumatic event for many people around the world. The statements below are in no way intended to detract from that.

Conversely, from as early as April 2020 it can be seen that for the environment / the planet the pandemic has brought rather different results.

With international travel discouraged by many Government's internationally, The Centre for Aviation reported that for one week during April 2020 European flight seat numbers fell by 90% compared with the same period in the last year (18)

The use of private and public transport became a regular feature of the daily Downing Street address to the nation. Chart 5, below, is taken from the Downing Street presentation on 30th March 2020.

Transport use change during March 2020

'Transport use in Great Britain has decreased since the imposition of social distancing rules. The percentage change in the use of all motor vehicles, National Rail, the London Underground (TfL), and bus travel (TfL)' (19)

Figure 6 - Transport use change during March 2020 TfL = Transport for London

The impact upon the environment, even within a few weeks of lockdown, has been remarkable. On 8th April the BBC reported the drop in air pollution in the two weeks following the lockdown.

Figure 7, below, is taken from the BBC report. Using data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) it compares the two week lockdown period with the same period in 2019.

Nitrogen dioxide levels recorded in 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. (20) Figure 7 - Average Daily Nitrogen Dioxide readings

At the time that this strategy was produced it was too early to know the full impact that this pandemic has had upon air pollution generally, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. However, The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has written to the UK Government advising on how the nation can emerge from the pandemic whilst delivering a stronger and cleaner economy. (25). These recommendations include:

  • Build new homes that are fit for the future
  • Scale up housing retrofits
  • Invest in low-carbon, resilient infrastructure such as improved broadband instead of new roads
  • Make it easy for people to work remotely, walk and cycle
  • Expand tree planting
  • Ensuring the benefits of climate change are shared widely and that actions taken do not burden those who are least able to pay

The CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said ' The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of planning well for the risks the country faces. Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy. The Government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions' (25)

In April 2020 DEFRA, along with the Air Quality Expert group, was asking for the submission of evidence relating to the changes in UK air quality. (21) These findings will be reported in the annual review of this strategy in 2021.


In July 2019 South Ribble Borough Council declared a climate emergency and set a goal to become Carbon neutral by 2030 Within the 2019 climate emergency Council declaration, the statement is made - 'This Council declares that the effect of climate change within the borough poses an immediate danger to the health and well-being of our residents and therefore proclaims a Climate Emergency with immediate effect.

To combat this threat, the borough sets a goal of rendering the borough carbon neutral by the year 2030.' A full copy of the Council motion is detailed as Appendix 2

Towards 2030 - The way forward This strategy encompasses two broad themes

  • Carbon Reduction Measures - how the Council intends to progress towards the 2030 carbon neutral goal, and
  • Resilience - preparing for the consequences of changing climate within the Borough

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