In 2019 the Committee on Climate Change published a pathway to net zero by 2050, which prompted North and West Yorkshire to declare a Climate Emergency and set targets to reach net zero by 2038. The Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) worked with elementenergy to develop technically robust emissions pathways which the Authorities could use to identify key milestones, decision points, policies and interventions. You can read the full pathways in “North and West Yorkshire Emissions Reduction Pathways“.
The study looked at everything from effectively no intervention “Baseline” to “Max Ambition”, summarised below:
The report takes a slightly different approach to looking at emissions, rather than grouping emissions by type i.e. energy generation, it groups them by end use, so energy generation is not explicitly mentioned.
The pathways are analysed in terms of where the reductions in GHGs need to be achieved. So in the max ambition scenario below, you can see that agriculture and land use goes from a carbon dioxide emitter to a carbon dioxide sink to offset some of the emissions in other sectors. In order to achieve net zero, the reductions necessary in carbon dioxide emissions by transport and housing are significant.
The report summarisies what the major sources of carbon dioxide emission reduction are in each scenario.
Writing plans or even pathways in themselves don’t cut carbon dioxide emissions and so don’t tackle climate change, it is only by concrete actions that we will avert some of the effects of climate change. So are the right actions happening locally? You can use the figure below to make your own assessment.
What should local and national government be doing now and into the future to make sure that Yorkshire reaches net zero by 2038:
The North and West Yorkshire Emissions Reduction Pathways document is a comprehensive analysis of a number of routes to reduced carbon dioxide emissions in Yorkshire and provides a great guide to what should be happening.
In July 2021 a couple of significant local developments happened North Yorkshire County Council released its draft decarbonisation plan as part its Executive Meeting on 13th July and Northern Powergrid announced their draft business plan for 2023-2028.
NYCC’s decarbonisation plan is a plan purely for the activities of the council, with no mention of the carbon reduction pathways. The ability of the council to deliver even its own carbon reduction also looks shakey when the council states “There will need to be considerable financial investment to achieve the council’s aspiration to be carbon neutral….. Some of this investment, for example in improvements to thermal insulation and heating systems, will save money in the longer term and a number of funding streams are available to support some elements of the required action, such as tree planting, decarbonisation of heating of public sector buildings…. However, we and other local authorities will not be able to tackle every aspect of carbon reduction nor achieve net carbon neutrality without government support and action through legislation and fiscal measures.”
Northern Powergrid is essential to carbon reduction across North Yorkshire, as North and West Yorkshire Emissions Reduction Pathways (NWYERP) stresses the importance of electrification across different sectors and that to achieve this the local power grid has to be upgraded, in fact doubled according to the National Audit Office’s recent report. The NWYERP states that these upgrades need to have occurred by 2025, Northern Powergrid has just published “Our business plan for 2023-28: a draft for consultation“, proposing a 36% increase in their capital spending, so it seems unlikely that the doubling of the grid will have happened by 2025. This assessment may seem unfair as the sums of money are large, but net zero late is bad as it traps in more climate change and so it is not about spending large amounts of money, but doing enough. Northern Powergrid says “Northern Powergrid plans prosperous green future for local economies fairness for bill payers and £3.2 billion investment“, fair bills, green economy, investment all good, but it is getting to net zero as soon as possible which will make the difference. Currently our grid is likely to delay our transition to net zero and so this must be addressed now.