A new report highlights that Winchester District’s greenhouse gas emissions actually decreased over the decade  2005-2015. The report, the seventh on this subject produced each year for Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) by Professor Bob Whitmarsh and presented to Winchester District’s Low Carbon Board last week, analysed official UK energy and emissions data and extracted Winchester District’s contribution. It offers some good news but additionally highlights the need for concerted action to keep the District’s future emissions on target.

In 2009, in a bid to reduce the District’s carbon dioxide emissions, the former Winchester District Strategic Partnership  set a target of a 30 per cent reduction by 2015 (relative to 2004 levels). This was seen as the District’s contribution to the UK’s statutory obligation to cut emissions by 80 per cent relative to 1990 by 2050.

Government data for 2015 have recently become available.  They show that the District’s emissions in 2015 reduced significantly, but ended up greater than the target figure by 6.5 per cent (or 79,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide).  However, allowing for the growing population of the District (which had increased by 11 per cent since 2004) the target was exceeded on a per capita basis by 0.8%. However, it will be a tough challenge to meet the current target of a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 (compared to 2004) adopted by Winchester City Council (WCC) in April 2015.

Two key areas were commercial electricity and road transport:

  • Commercial electricity consumption actually increased over the decade. But because of the closure across UK of many relatively ‘dirty’ coal-burning power stations and their replacement by sources of renewable energy, electricity emissions from the commercial sector decreased although by less than in adjacent local authorities, and even other parts of the UK.
  • Fuel consumption by, and emissions from, road vehicles barely decreased over the decade because the number of goods vehicles increased by over 14 per cent since 2009.

While the data in the report reflect the national picture, local actions will continue to play a key part in determining the outcome. The report concludes that commercial organisations should be encouraged to reduce their electricity consumption and home owners and others to replace old, inefficient central heating boilers and improve building insulation. Planning applications for renewable energy developments should also continue to be supported wherever possible. The forthcoming Movement Strategy for Winchester, being commissioned by Hampshire County Council, will provide a key opportunity to introduce and promote lower-carbon vehicles and better transport infrastructure, including more public transport, walking and cycling, as advocated in the report.

‘Greenhouse gas emissions in Winchester District: Part VII’ is available to download .