Leeds City Region strives to be a carbon neutral economy

Roger Marsh

Leeds City Region has ambitions to be one of the world’s first zero carbon energy economies thanks to a new Energy Strategy adopted by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the LEP.

In agreeing the strategy, the Combined Authority and LEP discussed their ambition for Leeds City Region to be the first UK city region to meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets, and committed to further exploration of the detailed work required to achieve this.

Meeting the targets would take the City Region a long way towards partners’ ultimate goal of becoming a zero-carbon energy economy, as well as add £11billion to the region’s economy and create 100,000 extra jobs through investment in clean energy.

Reducing carbon emissions and growing the region’s green economy has been a focus of City Region partners for the past decade and initiatives led by the LEP and Combined Authority have contributed to an overall 38% reduction in carbon emissions in the City Region since 2005, compared to 27% nationally.

These initiatives include support for businesses to reduce their waste, water and energy bills, measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes and combat fuel poverty, investment in local, low carbon energy schemes such as district heat networks and the introduction of low emission buses in partnership with local bus operators.

A new Energy Accelerator – the only one of its kind in the UK – will be launched in the New Year, providing technical expertise to bring forward and identify funding for low carbon energy projects.

Together, these measures plus the initiatives identified in the new Leeds City Region Energy Strategy will take the City Region two thirds of the way towards meeting the Paris Climate Agreement targets. Now, the Combined Authority and LEP have committed to work to identify what the region needs to do to complete the final third.

Initiatives set out in the new Energy Strategy include the development of hydrogen buses, delivery of the landmark H21 project to convert the existing natural gas network in Leeds to hydrogen, the recently announced installation of ultra-low-emission vehicle charging points across West Yorkshire, and carbon capture storage (CCS) schemes, building on the pilot bioenergy CCS project at Drax in Selby.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP and of the NP11 group of local enterprise partnerships across the North, said: “Leeds City Region’s long history of energy generation puts us in pole position to lead the UK’s transition to a zero carbon economy. Our region still generates 12% of all UK electricity, a third of which now comes from low carbon or renewable sources.

“We are already leading by example as a City Region through the clean growth initiatives we’ve been delivering over a number of years, which are making businesses more productive and households better off as well as contributing to reductions in emissions.

“The third anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement is, however, a reminder that we still have a long way to go if we are to leave the planet in a better place for future generations. I am delighted, therefore, by the level of ambition City Region partners have shown in embracing our zero carbon goals.

“It is only through concerted, collective action that we will be able to deliver on this ambition, so I look forward to taking our plans to the next stage in collaboration with partners across Yorkshire and the North of England.”