Reducing carbon emissions

We want to protect Barnsley for future generations. A key part of this is improving the climate and reducing carbon emissions.

On Wednesday 18 September 2019 Barnsley Cabinet declared a climate emergency to bring these issues to everyone's attention.

To help Barnsley to reduce its carbon emissions two programmes are being proposed:

  • Zero 40 - Barnsley Council will become carbon zero by 2040, or earlier if possible
  • Zero 45 - where the borough will become zero carbon by 2045

Zero 40 

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

Zero 45 

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 zero carbon by 2045.

What will each plan have?

Both Zero 40 and Zero 45 are underpinned by four evidence-based sustainable energy action plans running every five years leading up to 2040. These are 2020-2025, 2025-2030, 2030-2035 and 2035-2040.

Each plan will have carbon targets and be driven by five themes which will focus on existing carbon reduction programmes for the council.

These themes will be:

  • energy efficiency and procurement of energy
  • resource efficiency  
  • sustainable transport
  • renewable
  • decentralised heating

Each action plan will set out the projects and programmes that are needed to achieve the zero carbon goal by 2040 or earlier if further opportunities are found.

What we're doing already to help the climate 

Our Energy Strategy already commits us to reducing the level of carbon we emit. Existing projects include:

  • replacement of the Metrodome leisure centre coal fired boilers to improve local air quality and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • affordable warmth programmes supporting residents to live in warmer homes that are more affordable to heat.
  • updating the heating and ventilation to Barnsley Council corporate buildings and installing solar panels to rooftops.
  • deployment of renewable technologies to Berneslai Homes properties which includes the use of battery technology.
  • the design and build of solar panels and thermal into The Glass Works.
  • an ongoing programme for the conversion of existing streetlights to LEDs.
  • a programme to install electric vehicle charging in public car parks.
  • replacement, on a phased basis, of our car and van fleet with electric vehicles.

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 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).