Report sets benchmark for SKDC's carbon reduction pledge

South Kesteven District Council has reached an important milestone in its efforts to tackle climate change with the publication of an in-depth report by the internationally recognised Carbon Trust.

SKDC, with cross-party support, declared a climate emergency in September 2019 when it pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by at least 30% by 2030 and become net-zero carbon as soon as viable before 2050.

The report, commissioned by SKDC, sets out the council's carbon emissions for 2018-19, providing the benchmark against which progress will be measured.

Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations, Cllr Dr Peter Moseley, said: "Public understanding and awareness of the causes and effects of climate change has increased dramatically over the last few years. We have a responsibility to lead by example in operating our services in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.

"The publication of our carbon footprint report is a crucial step in our climate emergency plan. It means we now understand the council's contribution to climate change so that we have a starting point from which to change the way we operate to reduce emissions and save energy. It is only a first step, but without a benchmark, you can't measure progress or truly understand what needs to be done."

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The carbon footprint of SKDC is calculated at 7,600 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) which includes other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. The figure is equivalent to the individual carbon footprint of 1,245 South Kesteven residents.

The biggest carbon generators include energy and heating for council buildings (31.8% of the overall total); the council vehicle fleet (25.2%); and the leisure centres in Grantham, Stamford, Bourne and Deepings (41.5%).

Cllr Dr Moseley said: "We don't have direct responsibility for running our leisure centres, but we wanted to include their carbon emission figures so that we have a full, open and honest picture about the challenge we face. It also shows the reality of the fact that the council cannot make meaningful change on its own, but we can ensure that we do all we can to put our own house in order.

"SKDC is currently working on a major programme of replacement and refurbishment of its leisure centres and will be seeking improvements in carbon efficiency as part of that."

One area where steps are already being taken is street lighting. SKDC is responsible for around 3,900 streetlights across the district, most of which are in villages and a small number of residential urban areas.  A project is under way to upgrade inefficient and expensive lights to more efficient and cost-effective LEDs in a long-term rolling programme.

Cllr Dr Moseley said: "We are continually looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and save money and this is a great example of using the latest technology to do both.

"There is no doubt this is a positive move. LED lights will support our commitment to reducing carbon emissions, are more efficient and will help to mitigate against any future rises in electricity prices."

Other possible options for reducing SKDC's carbon footprint include more energy efficiency measures for buildings and more electric vehicles in the council fleet.

Residents can see what their own carbon footprint is here and learn simple ways of reducing their impact on the planet.

Cllr Dr Moseley said: "While we expect carbon emissions across the country to increase as more lockdown restrictions are lifted, the reduction that has been recorded nationally during the Coronavirus lockdown shows there is a way we can all help. Ultimately success will depend on everyone playing a part."