Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Dundee's carbon footprint

A number of constituents have contacted me following the recent publication of a report by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which indicated that Dundee has the biggest carbon footprint of any area in Scotland.

I raised this matter with the City Council's Environment Director, who has updated me as follows:

"We have had an initial look at the Potsdam report and I guess the first thing to note is that this is a theoretical assessment of Dundee's carbon footprint as a city and is not a reflection of Dundee City Council's carbon footprint. 

This assessment is based upon a theoretical model that considers a number of factors including population vs geographical size, manufacturing output, consumption v production, energy demand etc.  It is not a "production based" model but rather a "consumption based" model and inherently will make a number of assumptions on consumption behaviours and patterns, but does not consider the "production" of CO2.

I have to say that we were rather surprised to see where the Potsdam model suggested Dundee was placed in Scotland, as on the face of it, there is no logical explanation and the study offers no insight. Unfortunately we cannot verify the data and the assumptions made for the model, and nor the accuracy of the model itself.

Like all other Scottish Council's we use the official UK Government figures, produced by the Department of Climate Change, to report on our carbon emissions.  These include "production based" figures and are therefore not directly comparable with the Potsdam model. Based on these figures, from 2005 until 2010, Dundee has seen an 11.1% reduction in per capita CO2 emissions in the local authority area.  This includes reductions in all sectors including road transport, industrial, commercial and domestic. We have just received the 2011 data and although we have not had a chance to interrogate this in detail, it appears that the downward trend is continuing.

For more information, I would refer you to Report 200/2013 to the Policy & Resources of 20 May of this year, which sets out Dundee's current position and its commitment to further reducing carbon emissions.

I hope this helps clarify a bit and give reassurance that carbon reduction is something that is being taken extremely seriously."

I was pleased to receive this reassurance from the council's Director of Environment as it is vital that all efforts are made to further reduce carbon emissions.   The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report has highlighted the consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions underlining that all effort must be made to tackle this important issue.