In general terms, Somerset is on a positive path in its carbon emissions journey, having enjoyed a reduction of 34.6% of total CO2 emissions from 2005-2018, seeing seven consecutive years of total emissions reduction. This reduction is slightly less than the national average of 35.9% over the same period.
The major drivers facilitating this overall decrease have come from changes in the fuel mix for electricity generation, with a decrease in the use of coal and gas, and an increase in the use of renewable energy sources. CO2 emissions have dropped in 360 out of 379 LA’s between 2018-19. There was a 3.6% decrease in national emissions overall, compared to a drop of 3.1% in Somerset.
In 2019, a total of 3351kt (kilotons) of CO2 were emitted in Somerset across industrial, domestic, transport, public sector and commercial sources. For context, a kiloton of carbon is emitted by 200 average cars in 1 year. In fact, the majority of emissions in Somerset derive from the transport sector – 44%, compared to 19% from industry and 23% from the domestic sector. Significantly, motorway emissions (i.e. the M5) contribute 10.04% of Somerset’s total emissions.
The substantial contribution to carbon emissions represented by the M5 motorway is an important reminder that a significant amount of carbon emissions are beyond the scope of a local authority’s administrative power to alter. Indeed, the Government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) notes ‘these statistics should be interpreted with caution’ due to the minimal effect LA’s can bring to bear on certain types of emissions. That said, these statistics serve as a useful means for tracking our C02 emissions.
At the district local authority level, the most recent data available from 2019 indicates that South Somerset has contributed the most to CO2 emissions in Somerset in 2019, with 911kt’s produced, 41.6% of which were from the transport sector. Indeed, transport emissions constitute the largest polluting sector in each district, with Somerset’s rurality contributing to lack of alternatives to private motorised transport. Both South Somerset and Mendip’s Industrial emissions stand slightly higher than the county average, at 23.1% and 20.3% respectively.
It is important to note that industry supply chains can contain between 60-80% of greenhouse gas emissions associated with both the production and consumption of goods and services (See ‘Somerset Climate Emergency Framework’). Given that the data above pertaining to industry and commercial emissions are estimates of direct CO2 emissions within Somerset (and its constituent district authority areas) only and supply chains often spread (inter)nationally, there are a lot of ‘externalised’ emissions not captured here. Working with businesses to better understand and reduce these broader supply chain emissions where possible is a policy priority for SCC and partners. Similarly, at an individual or household level, our consumer habits have carbon implications beyond those captured in national emissions data (e.g. buying food or manufactured products from abroad).
To view the full national statistical data set pertaining to UK local authority and regional CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2018 click here.
To view an interactive map of local authority level CO2 emissions data click here.