Glasgow’s CO2 emissions have fallen by more than 13% since 2020 and dropped by 50% since 2006, new data has revealed.
The most recent figures on carbon emissions and energy consumption released, by Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), shows that Glasgow’s CO2 emissions in 2020 totalled 2,118,000 of carbon dioxide.
In the same year gas emissions dropped by 6%,and electricity emissions dropped 18%, from, from 2019.
While these are important achievements, they come with strong caveats due to the implications of Covid-19 that completely changed daily life for everyone and had a significant impact on the emissions profile of Glasgow in 2020.
Using projected figures, however, the city can estimate that emissions reductions in the absence of Covid-19, following a similar course to previous years, may have produced a decrease of around 7.6%, from 2019.
Regardless of the pandemic the city has met and exceeded its target to achieve a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 from the baseline year (2006).
While acknowledging that there may be a ‘bounce-back’ effect post-pandemic, the council is looking to capitalise on this dramatic fall in emissions and minimise the rate at which they may return, ensuring it retains as much of the 13.3% drop in emissions from 2019, as it can.
The transport sector saw the biggest drop in emissions generated at 20% from 2019, which was expected, and similar to other key local authorities. Industrial and commercial emissions fell by 16% and 17%, respectively, and domestic emissions by 6%, during 2020. This was due to the stay-at-home guidance that people followed during the pandemic.
The reduction in gas emissions could indicate that policies and programmes to retrofit Glasgow’s domestic housing stock and expand its district heating networks are seeing success. Decarbonising heating and cooling with retrofit programmes and district heating expansion are also key parts of the city’s approach.
The council’s support for Glasgow’s transition to a net zero carbon city by 2030 through the Glasgow Climate Plan’s policies, projects and actions continue to show steady returns and are having a positive impact.
Increased EV charging infrastructure and improved EV Next Bike capacity are creating an environment that is convenient for residents to make low carbon choices.
The continued rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure across the city saw significant increases in 2020, with an 124% increase in EV charging.
The council’s Spaces for People programme delivered temporary travel interventions during the pandemic. Most of these schemes are now being made permanent following an independent review that highlighted their longer-term active travel and sustainability benefits.
Glasgow has also continued to progress its Low Emission Zone in the city. A key output from this is a greener fleet of buses operating in the city centre. The proportion of electric buses is increasing ever year and this will begin to have a notable impact on transport emissions.
Furthermore, Glasgow continues to contribute to the national shift toward renewable electricity with its continued rollout of solar PV alongside the contributions from both the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC), that delivers a saving of 90,000 tonnes of CO² every year, and the Cathkin Wind Turbine.
The council’s policies to support modal shift to forms of active travel also continue to prove successful. For the city’s Next Bike hire scheme, total rentals in Glasgow went up 7.5% from 2019 to 2020.
The council, keen to lead by example, has also seen an overall reduction in it emissions falling 50.3%, from baseline 2005/2006.
The greatest reductions for the council have been made in electricity consumption. This is largely due to LED lighting installations and retrofits in buildings, street lighting and stair lighting.
Electrification and replacement of the council’s fleet and additional solar array using the new technology of solar tiles instead of traditional panels on a new building used by Social Work has also contributed.
Councillor Angus Millar, the city’s climate convenor, said: “While these emissions reductions both citywide and for the council are encouraging there is no room for complacency. The climate emergency remains a very real and imminent threat and we, the council and city partners, will have to work harder, and smarter, to continue the downward trajectory and minimise the ‘bounce back’ in carbon emissions following the pandemic.
“We are making progress towards Glasgow’s ambition to be a net zero carbon city by the end of this decade, but we know we need to do more. Our efforts to promote sustainable transport alternatives and increase natural carbon capture via tree planting, for example, will help change how Glasgow looks and feels as we move towards net zero.
“Similarly, our work to increase renewable energy generation, pursue innovative green infrastructure like district heating networks, and develop wide-scale approaches to retrofitting home energy will be critical.
“Now, as we look to secure a green recovery from the pandemic, is the time to pick up the pace.”