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Council will lead the way in drive to deliver a carbon neutral Cardiff by 2030

24 November 2021


The One Planet Strategy – which sets out Cardiff Council’s plans to deliver a carbon neutral local authority by 2030 – has been published and approved by Cardiff Council’s Cabinet.

The council has spent the past year calculating the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) (expressed as an equivalent carbon dioxide emission (CO2e)) it produces, while looking at ways in which emissions can be reduced.

The latest figures show that Wales’ capital is responsible for 1,626,056 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2e) every year, with around 184,904 tonnes generated by the council.

Cllr Michael Michael, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, said: “There is little doubt that climate change is the defining global challenge of our generation. This Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, and since then we have been working hard to build a strategy that sets out how the council will become carbon neutral by 2030.

“Over the past 5 years this administration has successfully reduced Cardiff Council’s carbon emissions from electricity by 70%. As part of our One Planet strategy, we have projects already up and running or ready to go which, when fully implemented, will reduce our emissions by 57% by 2030. We also have a series of proposals, which we are now developing business cases for, which we believe will deliver a carbon-neutral council by 2030.

“Ideally we want the whole city to be carbon neutral by 2030. To do that we know we have to lead by example. It is the right thing to do, and we know it is what the majority of people in Cardiff want us to do.

“Our plan is to front up, show what can be achieved, and to do our best to bring our residents, businesses and the public sector together on this journey, to create the greener, cleaner, healthier city we all want. Reducing total carbon emissions created by the city is a major challenge. The council is making a head start on that too. We are introducing a raft of measures which, if fully implemented, could cut the city’s total emissions by 22% by 2030. Transport accounts for 41% of all carbon emissions created in Cardiff right now. It is the largest single producer of carbon in the city. This is why our Transport White Paper is clearly aimed at reducing private car use while boosting public transport and active travel use. This will be key to reducing citywide emissions.”

The public, business, key stakeholders and the youth of Cardiff were consulted on the draft One Planet Strategy in late 2020 and early 2021 and the results, alongside the council’s carbon data analysis identified two priorities:

  • to reduce energy consumption and the reliance on fossil fuels; and,
  • to increase the number of trees planted while increasing biodiversity across Cardiff.

The results of that consultation have now been fed into the final strategy and a number of recommendations have been presented to Cardiff Council’s Cabinet at its meeting on Thursday, October 13, including:

  • The approval of the One Planet Strategy;
  • Agreement to adopt the action plans in the strategy designed to reduce the council’s carbon emissions; and,
  • For Cardiff Council to become a signatory of the UK 100 Net Zero Pledge as a national expression of the authority’s commitments.

Cllr Michael added: “To achieve our aim of becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030, we needed to understand the carbon impact of all of the services that the council delivers. This baseline modelling has now been completed and work is already underway on delivering solutions which we believe could reduce our emissions in the medium term by 57%.

“However, there is much more work to be done developing our proposals for ‘medium to long-term’ solutions which will be required to deliver a carbon neutral council by 2030.”

In total Cardiff Council is producing 184,904 tonnes of CO2e every year. This carbon footprint falls under three categories – ‘caused emissions’, ‘direct emissions’ and ‘indirect emissions.’

Caused Emissions – 163,441 tonnes of CO2e (86% of council’s total)

The scope of ‘caused emissions’ is split into two main sections, procurement of products and services and staff commuting to work. Caused emissions account for 163,441 tonnes of CO2e emitted. This is 86% of the total carbon emissions produced by the council. This 86% is split into two categories, with procurement accounting for 94% and staff commuting to work generating 6% of carbon emissions.

The procurement element of this category is vast and includes most council services including, waste management; passenger transport; construction projects; social care provision; highway maintenance; catering; events; ICT provision and more.

To tackle the carbon emissions from ‘procurement’, and the staff commute, the council’s plans include:

  • Carry out a root-and-branch review of what we buy, identifying areas generating carbon emissions and finding alternatives.
  • Deliver a near zero carbon strategy for all new-build council buildings, schools and social housing from 2024.
  • Bring carbon emissions into the centre of our decision making on our existing estate, including building refurbishment and disposal.
  • Focus on the circular economy – an economic system designed to transform our throwaway economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, nature is regenerated and renewable energy sources are used.
  • Encourage and favour low-carbon suppliers in the tender process for new products and services.
  • Develop and implement a policy – where it is operationally feasible – for staff to work partly in the office and partly at home – known as ‘hybrid working’.
  • Encourage more staff to travel to work by cycling, walking or public transport.
  • Develop a scheme for employees which encourages the purchase of electric vehicles.

Council’s Direct Emissions – 14,745 tonnes of CO2e (8% of council’s total)

This involves CO2e emitted from gas boilers in council properties and vehicle exhausts which account for 14,745 tonnes (8%) of total CO2e generated by the council. This 8% is split into two subcategories, CO2e generated from natural gas (68%) and the CO2e generated from council vehicles (32%).

The council’s plans to reduce this include:

  • Introducing an energy-efficient, retrofitting scheme in council buildings and ensuring that any new buildings are commissioned to near zero carbon standards.
  • Moving the council fleet away from diesel-powered vehicles to electric and other clean-fuel vehicles.

Indirect Emissions – 11,373 tonnes of CO2e (6% of council’s total)

This involves the use of electricity which accounts for 11,373 CO2e tonnes emitted by the council. This is 6% of the Council’s total carbon emissions. This 6% is split into two subcategories with 77% of CO2e emitted via electricity used in council buildings and 23% of CO2e generated through street lighting.

The council’s plans to reduce this include:

  • Replacing 27,750 street lights in residential areas with LED lights, reducing energy costs by £500,000 per year and reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 836 tonnes per year. The last phase of this project is currently being delivered.
  • Maximising direct renewable energy to power council buildings and council vehicles.
  • Delivering a pipeline of major, renewable-energy projects with a direct feed to buildings and/or with direct electric vehicle charging capabilities.

Carbon emissions across the city 

Using UK government data it has been assessed that Cardiff as a city produces 1,626,056 tonnes of GHG (CO2e) every year. The total carbon output across the city shows that:

  • Transport accounts for just under half of all emissions in the City – 41%;
  • Domestic properties account for 27%;
  • Industry 14%;
  • Commercial 12%; and the
  • Public sector 6%.

The citywide figure is calculated as carbon created within the physical boundary of the city. The council’s total emissions are more detailed and include emissions created outside the city which the council is responsible for. Examples include the electricity it uses which is created in power stations outside the city, the staff commute from beyond Cardiff, and the supply manufacture and delivery of goods and services which the local authority buys from outside Cardiff.

The council’s plans to help reduce emissions citywide by over a fifth (22%), include:

  • Tackling the city’s largest cause of carbon emissions by delivering its ten-year transport strategy (The Transport White Paper). This aims to reduce private car use by 50% and to double the amount of people using public transport, walking and cycling. You can read more about the Transport White Paper here Transport White Paper – Keeping Cardiff Moving
  • Delivering a district heating system utilising heat from Viridor’s Energy Recovery Facility at Trident Park. This will deliver heating through underground pipes to large commercial and public-sector buildings and new developments in Cardiff Bay.
  • Develop a co-ordinated partnership strategy to promote and upscale housing energy efficiency retrofit across all tenures of housing targeting up to 2,000 houses per year by 2024
  • Creating Cardiff’s Urban Forest (Coed Caerdydd) – £1m of funding will be used to plant trees on 50 hectares of land, increasing the tree canopy in Cardiff. A further 800 hectares are earmarked for tree planting in the next 10 years. Increasing tree planting and green infrastructure across Cardiff will boost the city’s ability to capture CO2e.
  • Developing a low-carbon strategy through planning and building regulations for all new buildings in the city.
  • Developing a food strategy for Cardiff. Supporting more localised forms of food production which will benefit the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint in this sector.

Cllr Michael added: “Most importantly we know that we can’t achieve a major shift in the city if we act alone. Our research and consultation has underlined the importance of good communication, targeted campaigns and constant engagement to underline that this needs to be a citywide effort. We all have a part to play. One Planet Cardiff therefore makes a commitment to reach out to the public and major stakeholders to promote and support collective action through a behaviour change programme.”

To do this the council will:

  • Develop a rolling plan of engagement to help people understand the issues and to encourage a change in their behaviour to adopt low-carbon living.
  • Create a targeted schools engagement plan to highlight the importance of climate change issues to children, enabling them to be ambassadors and influencers for change, and,
  • Strengthening our existing collaborative work with local public sector partners to bring together and amplify our collective carbon reduction plans in the city.

You can read the full One Planet Strategy Document here