28 January 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Almost half of local authorities in England do not know their own carbon footprint, according to a Freedom of Information request made by engineering services trade body ECA.
Overall, 93 out of 214 local authorities (43 per cent) said they do not measure all energy use in relation to their built assets, including housing, facilities, offices and other council-owned buildings.
And 47 per cent of councils admitted they do not have a plan in place for reducing the carbon emissions resulting from their built assets.
ECA energy advisor Luke Osborne said: "It's highly concerning that almost half of local authorities do not know how much carbon they are responsible for, or have a plan in place to reduce this amount moving forward.
"Unless there is an imminent step change in their approach, it is inconceivable that councils are going to become carbon-neutral in less than 30 years. There is a lot of rhetoric out there, but very few action plans."
The survey also shows that council building energy use is causing vast amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) to be pumped into the atmosphere each year:
- Overall, councils that responded said 252,978 tonnes of CO2 resulted from their main HQ buildings - the equivalent of 150,000 return flights from London to New York.
- The average annual carbon footprint of a council HQ building was 1,234 tonnes of CO2, however four produced more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2.
- The highest carbon footprint of a council HQ building was 18,200 tonnes of CO2, which came from a district council based in the East Midlands. This is equivalent to 9,500 average train journeys.
More positively, 166 councils (78 per cent) said they are planning for net-zero operation by 2050. Furthermore, 49 local authorities (23 per cent) stated that they would be carbon-neutral by 2030. However, 11 of these 49 councils do not currently know their own carbon footprint.
The UK Government has committed the nation to being a net zero-carbon economy by 2050.