In general terms, Somerset is on a positive path in its carbon emissions journey, having enjoyed a reduction of 33% of total CO2 emissions from 2005-2017. This runs in lockstep with the national average of 33% over the same period. The major contributors to this reduction have been realised through a pivot towards more renewable electricity and higher EU appliance standards. CO2 emissions have dropped in 358 out of 391 LA’s between 2016-17, reflecting a 3.5% decrease in national emissions overall, which is mainly a product of a decrease in the use of coal for energy production across the country.
In 2017 a total of 3285 kt (kilotons) of CO2 were emitted in Somerset from industrial, domestic and transport-related 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 – 46.7%, compared to 29.5% from industry and 23.8% from the domestic sector. Significantly, motorways alone constitute 12.41% of Somerset’s total emission output.
It is important to bear in mind when consulting the above data however that some major sources of emissions have been stripped out . This is in line with BEIS’s statistical guidelines that only some emissions are ‘within the scope’ of local authorities, and therefore large motorways, industrial sites, railways and land usage sites have been excluded from this dataset. This decision has been taken to enable a more meaningful statistical district level comparison to be made. For example, if motorway emissions had been included, only Sedgemoor and Taunton would have been affected, seeing their respective totals increase by 256 and 139 kt respectively. In addition, emissions derived from motorway usage are often the result of ‘through’ traffic in and out of an area, whether by residents or non-residents. Given the scope of motorway usage therefore, it would appear misleading to attribute these emissions solely to the districts where the M5 happens to fall.
In regard to the district level, the most recent data available from 2017 indicates that South Somerset has contributed the most to CO2 emissions in Somerset, with 917 kt’s produced, with 41% of these emissions being produced from the transport sector. Indeed, with the exception of Sedgemoor, transport constitutes the largest polluting sector in each district, with Somerset’s rurality contributing to lack of alternatives to private car usage. Both Sedgemoor and Mendip’s Industrial emissions stand slightly higher than the county average, standing at 37.84% and 36.42% 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 2017 click here.
To view an interactive map of local authority level CO2 emissions data click here.