Reducing our carbon emissions

We want to protect Barnsley for future generations. A key part of this is reducing carbon emissions to help limit the effects of climate change.

In September 2019 Barnsley Cabinet declared a climate emergency to bring these issues to everyone's attention.

To help Barnsley to reduce its carbon emissions we have the following two programmes:

Zero 40

We'll become net carbon zero by 2040, or earlier if possible.

Zero 40 will focus on improvements in the council’s environmental performance. This will be measured by reducing our carbon emissions against agreed milestones. The end result will see us being net zero carbon in our work by 2040.

Zero 45

Where the borough will become net zero carbon by 2045.

Zero 45 is a programme where we’ll help the whole of Barnsley including its residents, communities, partners and businesses to support Barnsley’s changeover to be net zero carbon by 2045.

Find out about the Barnsley Business Village. They can support businesses based in the Barnsley area who have high-impact potential for contributing to the UK’s Net Zero carbon emission targets.

What we're doing

We’re working on a lot of projects to reduce our carbon emissions and lessen our impact on the environment.

We have approved our first Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) which will guide our carbon reduction work for the next five years.

The projects we are working on fall under five topics:

Energy efficiency and procurement of energy

Energy efficiency covers anything to use less energy. This can be done with insulation and better equipment, for example. We also want to make sure the energy we buy comes from renewable sources.

  • Replacement of the Metrodome’s Leisure Complex’s coal fired boilers with a gas combined heat and power unit. This has reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality.  
  • An ongoing programme for the conversion of existing streetlights to more efficient LED lights.
  • Updating the heating and ventilation in the council’s buildings and installing solar panels to rooftops.
  • Ongoing home energy efficiency schemes which have supported hundreds of homeowners and private tenants to live in warmer homes which are more affordable to heat. 
  • Berneslai Homes also continuously improves the energy efficiency of council homes by improving insulation levels.

Resource efficiency

This means making the most of the resources we have and wasting as little as possible.

Sustainable transport

We aim to reduce the need to travel, encourage walking and cycling, and reduce the amount of carbon emitted through travel, such as by using electric and low emission vehicles.

  • The Barnsley Bike Works, located within Barnsley Interchange, to promote walking and cycling in the borough.
  • A scheme to install electric vehicle charging in public car parks across the borough using funding from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) to provide EV charging for residents without access to off-street parking.
  • Leading on a project across South Yorkshire to provide additional electric vehicle charge point infrastructure.
  • Replacement, on a phased basis, of our vehicle fleet with electric vehicles. Approval has been given for 25% of our fleet to be replaced with Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) and for 100% of our pest control fleet to upgraded to electric vehicles.
  • Barnsley’s Air Quality Action Plan, aims to reduce industrial, domestic and road transport emissions. This includes plans to: introduce emission standards for buses; measures to reduce traffic congestion; encourage walking and cycling; work with heavy goods and bus fleet operators in order to reduce emissions; work with developers to minimise the air quality impact of new development; and encourage the uptake of low emission vehicles and alternative fuels.
  • Our Modeshift Stars programme – how we work with schools and businesses to help them support cycling and walking.  
  • Active Travel Plan funding – Department for Transport led schemes to encourage walking and cycling during lockdown while maintaining social distancing.
  • Transforming Cities Funding – which includes active travel routes both on and off road, and also includes bus priority measures.
  • Hydrated vegetable oil (HVO) replacement in our some of our commercial vehicles - we're trialling hydrotreated vegetable oil in some of our commercial vehicles as part of our ongoing work to make Barnsley more sustainable. We want to protect Barnsley for future generations and help to improve our environment. A key part of this is reducing carbon emissions to help limit the effects of climate change. Hydrotreated vegetable oil is direct replacement alternative to diesel. It helps to reduce carbon emissions by 90%, runs the engine more efficiently, creates cleaner local air and offers improvements to our employee's wellbeing. We will continue our trial for three months before reviewing the benefits to our organisation and the environment.


Renewables are sources of energy that do not reduce and disappear with use, like fossil fuels. Examples of renewable energy are solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and wind turbines that use wind power to generate electricity.

  • The design and build of solar panels into The Glass Works.
  • Berneslai Homes have made many of their homes greener by installing air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers.
  • Berneslai Homes have also worked with Energise Barnsley to install solar panels on roofs on council homes, allowing tenants to benefit from free, renewable electricity. The team is currently working on adding batteries to the solar panels to store electricity for times when it is not sunny.

Decentralised heating

This means heating our homes via zero or low carbon measures away from traditional sources of heat. We will be looking at the potential for expanding district heat networks, where several buildings are heated from a single source.

  • Berneslai Homes currently manage 24 district heat networks across Barnsley.
  • We are considering opportunities for expanding these or setting up new networks. This includes looking at district heat networks from renewable sources of heat including naturally heated underground water from mines and sewers.

Other projects

  • Barnsley Town Hall hosted Energise Barnsley’s first Positive Climate Action Day in February 2020.
  • Along with community groups, we’re aiming to increase the number of trees planted in Barnsley. We’re aiming to plant 10,000 trees before 2025.
  • Our Parks Services team are working hard to conserve our green spaces and biodiversity.
  • Our Warm Homes team which works with households to help with energy bills and keep warm and healthy at home.
  • In the North area of the borough, the charity DIAL is running its Warm Connections advice service, assisting residents to lower their energy bills and reduce social isolation.
  • Barnsley's Affordable Warmth Charter Mark brings partner groups across the borough together. Here they share knowledge, skills and resources to tackle health differences caused by fuel poverty.

Frequently asked questions

What are carbon emissions?

Carbon dioxide is one of a group of gases known as ‘greenhouse gases’. Greenhouse gases also include gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons.

The main source of greenhouse gas emissions is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, petrol, diesel, or natural gas. Coal emits more carbon than petrol or gas (lowest levels of carbon). These gases persist in the atmosphere, and an increase in the concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere is proven to cause an increase in global average temperatures, commonly referred to as global warming.

What is climate change?

Greenhouse gas emissions which are trapped in the atmosphere cause an increase in global average temperatures, commonly referred to as global warming. However, increases in global temperature impact on global weather patterns which will mean local weather or our climate will change; this is commonly referred to as climate change.

What is the impact of climate change?

Over time the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has had a number of effects on our climate. Effects of climate change include:

  • rising global temperatures and heat waves
  • melting of the polar ice caps (the ice at the north and south poles of the planet)
  • rising ocean levels (caused by the melting ice)
  • more frequent and more powerful storms
  • animals and plants threatened with extinction as their habitat is lost
  • droughts and wildfires
  • ocean acidification, as the ocean absorbs greater amounts of carbon dioxide

All of these effects are already visible and we estimate that currently human activity has increased the global average temperature by around one to 1.5 degrees C.

To try and prevent these global impacts local councils, business and national government are coming together to try and reduce the amount of carbon they emit and keep the global increase in temperature to within 1.5 degrees C of current levels.

How can I reduce my emissions?

Measuring your carbon footprint is a great place to start and there are lots of websites that allow you to calculate yours, such as on the WWF carbon footprint calculator.

Find out more about reducing carbon emissions.

Why are Barnsley Council aiming for 2040/45?

Barnsley Council’s existing Energy Strategy commits it to being zero carbon in its operations by 2040, with the aim of achieving this by 2035 or earlier if possible. This means that the council will emit no carbon in the course of its day to day activities. The council only wants to commit to objectives which it believes it can deliver.

The UK government has passed legislation which commits the UK to being net zero carbon by 2050. Barnsley Council believes that it can take a leading role in helping the borough to become zero carbon by 2045; earlier than the government target.

Why aren't the council aiming for 2030?

Barnsley Council will only commit to targets which are both achievable and deliverable. The council’s existing zero carbon 2040 date is both. If opportunities arise which will allow the council to become zero carbon before 2040, we will take advantage of these.

What is the difference between being zero carbon and net zero carbon?

Both zero carbon and net zero carbon mean removing all fossil fuels and other sources of carbon emissions wherever possible. Zero carbon (or carbon neutrality) means that all fossil fuels and other sources of carbon are removed entirely.

Net zero carbon means that some sources of carbon may still be in the system but for every ton of carbon remaining these will be matched by a ton removed elsewhere. Often this means investing into projects which seek to plant trees or renewable energy schemes. Barnsley Council has committed to becoming net zero carbon by 2040.

What is a climate emergency?

Climate emergencies are a means of motivating support for the climate change agenda at a local level. Declaring a climate emergency will make sure that all the council’s future strategic decisions, budgets and approaches are focused on reducing carbon emissions.

What is the Barnsley Air Quality Action Plan?

Barnsley’s Air Quality Action Plan, aims to tackle industrial, domestic and road transport emissions. Road transport related actions within the plan include:

  • introducing emission standards for buses
  • measures to reduce congestion
  • encouraging walking and cycling
  • working with heavy goods and bus fleet operators in order to reduce emissions by improving fuel consumption
  • working with developers to minimise the air quality impact of new development
  • encouraging the uptake of low emission vehicles and alternative fuels

What is the impact of trees?

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day's supply of oxygen for four people.

Both Zero 40 and Zero 45 strategies will increase the number of trees across the borough. The government-sponsored Trees 2020 initiative will play a role in these plans, alongside Barnsley’s local communities, to help increase existing tree planting projects. Altogether this will result in an additional 10,000 trees being planted across the borough during the first five years of Zero 40 (2020-2025).