Report sets out pathway for Leeds to reach net zero

Leeds could save £651mn a year and create 1,500 jobs for the next decade, according to a report from the Leeds Climate Commission.

On 7 January, it published a Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for Leeds, setting out how the city can achieve its ambition of net zero emissions by 2030. As it stands, without further activity to address its carbon emissions, Leeds’ annual emissions are set to exceed its carbon budget by 4mn tonnes in 2030 and 3.5mn tonnes in 2050. It faces having to add to emissions reductions achieved already by securing a 70% reduction on its 2000 level of emissions by 2025, 85% by 2030, 95% by 2035, 97% by 2045, and 100% by 2050.

Leeds can partially close the gap between its projected future emissions and net zero emissions through cost effective options, the report set out, which would pay for themselves through the energy cost reductions they would generate alongside wide social and environmental benefits. It found that by 2030, Leeds could cut the gap by 41% through adopting cost effective options in houses, public and commercial buildings, transport and industry, reducing its total project energy bill by £651mn. Deep retrofitting of heating, lighting and insulation in houses, cooling and insulation in offices, shops and restaurants, as well as a range of measures across the transport sector were cited as the most carbon effective options to deliver these reductions.

Leeds could close the projected gap by 60% in 2030, if adopting measures that would not necessarily pay for themselves directly through the energy savings generated, but would result in wider indirect benefits economically and socially. To close the remaining 40%, Leeds would have to identify other more innovative interventions, such as promoting the use of low carbon vehicles, electrification and the use of hydrogen for heating and cooking, and planting trees. Carbon emissions could be further reduced through behavioural and consumption-based changes, such as reducing meat and dairy or concrete and steel consumption.