Climate change priorities set out as Cardiff Council cuts carbon emissions by 13%


Cardiff Council has cut its direct carbon emissions by 13% since 2019/20 according to a review of its One Planet Cardiff response to the climate emergency, which sets out its updated priorities for action.

In 2019/20 the council's direct operational emissions stood at 26,118 tonnes CO2e, a figure that reduced to 22,695 tonnes CO2e in 2020/21.

Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Cllr Caro Wild, said: "These figures demonstrate the significant steps the Council are already making towards our ambitious aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

"Responding to climate change is at the heart of our agenda and no area of the council will remain untouched, but this is an emergency, so it's vital that we focus our efforts on the areas that deliver the biggest carbon reductions possible in the shortest space of time."

"Whilst we have a clear responsibility to ensure the council reduces its own emissions, we also have a leadership role in reducing emissions across the city and One Planet Cardiff includes updates and ambitious targets showing we are taking meaningful actions." 

Some of the key areas of focus will be:

  • Decarbonising the Council's supply chain. This will include making carbon a competitive factor in all tenders. Procurement currently accounts for 80% of Council carbon emissions.
  • Delivering a new Estates Carbon Reduction plan. The installation of energy-efficiency measures, such as LED lightbulbs, means emissions from council buildings have fallen from 40,000 tonnes in 2014/15 to just over 18,000 tonnes in 21/22 (excluding leisure centres). The new plan will bring together work on proposals to increase roof-mounted solar energy, retrofit the entire council estate, and deliver net zero Carbon new council buildings.
  • Delivering the low carbon Cardiff Heat Network and new renewable energy schemes. Despite energy efficiency measures, as the council transitions its fleet to electric and looks for new ways to heat buildings, demand for electricity will increase, so new clean renewable energy on council land is key. Work is progressing to scope out new schemes with the potential to generate 25MW of green electricity. The Cardiff Heat Network, which uses heat generated as a by-product of waste processing, is now under construction and first ‘heat on' dates are anticipated in late 2023. Customers will see an immediate 80% average reduction in their carbon emissions.
  • Making sustainability and climate change a central driving force for the replacement Local Development Plan. Success in this area will need the co-operation and partnership of developers in the city to ensure that new development does not add to our carbon and climate challenges.
  • Continuing to deliver the actions set out in our Transport White Paper. Reducing the number of unnecessary motorised journeys in the city, enabling healthier and more environmentally sustainable active travel modes, and supporting a transition to low carbon fuels for any remaining journeys - including journeys made during the course of the Council's own operations. Transport makes up the second largest component of the Council's direct emissions. To date, 53 of the Council's fleet vehicles are electric. Subject to national vehicle shortages nationwide, the remainder are due for replacement by 2025.
  • Moving towards a circular economy. In 2020/21 recycling in Cardiff is estimated to have avoided 36,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. To drive further benefits the Council has produced a new recycling strategy aimed at increasing participation in recycling, increasing opportunities to recycle and encouraging the reuse and repair of materials.
  • Increasing tree canopy coverage. 20,000 trees have already been planted across the city through the Coed Caerdydd project. A total of 22 hectares of land will have been planted by 2024, supporting carbon sequestration and providing additional urban shading and cooling.
  • Mitigating the risk of flooding. Flooding is one of the major climate change risks for Cardiff. A scheme to strengthen defences on the Rhymeny Estuary that will offer protection against 1 in 200 year flood events is expected to commence construction in 2023. A new flood risk strategy and management plan is also being developed. Sustainable Urban Drainage designs continue to be integrated into new developments, public realm improvements and traffic calming schemes.
  • Increasing the production, supply and consumption of sustainable, locally grown food. Cardiff's food economy is currently over-dependent on imported and processed foods. A £2.5 million project in partnership with Monmouthshire Council and Cardiff Capital Region is currently seeking solutions to these issues. Work will also continue on a pilot project to test ways in which spare and underused plots of land in Council ownership can be made available to local community groups for healthy, local, lower carbon food growing initiatives. New low carbon, sustainable, and health school meal menus are being developed.
  • Changing behaviour. Delivering the One Planet Cardiff vision, both for a carbon neutral Council by 2030 and for the production of a detailed "pathway" to net zero for the whole city, will require the efforts of everyone living and working in the Cardiff.

Cllr Wild, added: "We may not be able to reverse climate change completely, and challenges such as the decarbonisation of heating from gas clearly still remain, but we are determined to ensure we play our part in protecting future generations from its worst impacts, and making Cardiff a greener, healthier, more sustainable place to live.

"We're working closely with partner organisations across the city to reduce emissions, but the truth is that becoming a carbon neutral Cardiff will need us all to make changes to our lifestyles."

One Planet Cardiff was scrutinised by the Environmental Scrutiny Committee at 4.30pm on December 8th. Papers related to this public scrutiny meeting, can be viewed here: 

A recording of the committee meeting webcast is available here:  and a copy of recommendations made by the committee following the meeting is available here:

Cardiff Council Cabinet approved the report on One Planet Cardiff at its public meeting in County Hall on Thursday, December 15th.Papers related to this meeting, and a recording of the webcast, can be viewed here: