Leeds needs ‘deeper and faster’ emissions cuts, says report

A new report says Leeds needs ‘deeper and faster’ emissions cuts if it is to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The document, produced by a team led by Andy Gouldson, chair of the Leeds Climate Commission and Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Leeds, sets out the emissions targets required for the city to become carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).

It would require the city cutting its 2005 level of emissions by 70% by 2025, 85% by 2030 and then to zero by 2050.

To meet these targets, the report says the city must switch its heating network to decarbonised hydrogen, retrofit existing buildings to improve energy efficiency, ensure that new buildings are carbon neutral, accelerate the rollout of the district heating network and transition more vehicles to electric whilst promoting active travel.

It’s claimed that by adopting these measures it could see Leeds reduce its total energy bill by £277m per year, with households in Leeds saving £81m per year; schools, hospitals, offices and other buildings could save £31m a year and industry in the city could cut its costs by £13.8m a year.

In March, Leeds City Council voted in favour of declaring a ‘climate emergency’ and next week the council’s executive will meet to discuss the Climate Commission’s proposals.

Cllr James Lewis, executive member for resources and sustainability, said: ‘We are committed to doing more to tackle climate change and, in the future, the council will consider the carbon impact of every decision it takes.’

Andy Gouldson, chair of Leeds Climate Commission, said: ‘The good news is that it is technically, and to a large extent, economically possible for Leeds to become a carbon neutral city and meet the carbon reduction targets in line with the global targets set out by the United Nations.

‘However, those measures will only take us so far. We need to go further and employ a range of innovative measures to close the gap – and if we step up to the challenge and do all of those, we could close that gap and get to zero by 2050.’

In related news, Leeds City Council is next week set to approve £20m plans for the city centre that will see the bus and walking network improved.

The city will implement a Class B Clean Air Zone from January 2020 that will cover over half of Leeds city centre, with HGVs, buses and coaches set to be charged £50 per day for travelling in the zone if they fail to meet the minimum emissions standards.

However, it has faced criticism from air quality campaigners for not going far enough as it will not charge high polluting vans or private vehicles like other Clean Air Zones around the country.