York misses out on a place in the top 100 greenest councils – as transport pollution keeps rising

Traffic queuing on Bootham, York – one of the pollution hotspots. Photograph © Google Street View

York is the 102nd ‘greenest’ local authority out of 389 in the country, according to Government research.

The city racks up 4.04 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person each year.

And while emissions are decreasing, the research shows pollution levels from transport have risen since 2013 in York.

Analysis by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows that the city’s CO2 output has fallen steadily since 2007 – when it was at 6.3 tonnes per person.

But – while carbon emissions from industry and commercial and domestic sources are decreasing – CO2 emissions from transport actually rose every year between 2013 and 2017, the year of the latest available data.

City is ‘quite good’

York Carbon Emissions 2005-2017

Scroll horizontally to see all the data

YearPer Capita Emissions (t)Industry and Commercial ElectricityIndustry and Commercial GasLarge Industrial InstallationsIndustrial and Commercial Other FuelsAgricultureIndustry and Commercial TotalDomestic ElectricityDomestic GasDomestic 'Other Fuels'Domestic TotalRoad Transport (A roads)Road Transport (Motorways)Road Transport (Minor roads)Diesel RailwaysTransport OtherTransport TotalLULUCF Net EmissionsGrand TotalPopulation ('000s)

Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

City of York Council declared a climate emergency in March – with a commitment for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030. This means York’s carbon emissions would be balanced out by carbon removal, or eliminated altogether.

And a dedicated climate change policy committee created to come up with strategies to meet this target has its first meeting on Tuesday.

A spokesman for York Green Party, which initiated plans to declare a climate emergency, said:

  • Every city needs to be near the top, it doesn’t matter about the league itself.

    That said, York is in quite a good placing already; this should encourage everyone.

    With city-wide partners working collaboratively and with great effort, we can work towards a higher placing and reduce our climate impacts.

Plans to cut carbon emissions could include encouraging local food production, reducing food miles, street lighting, trams and retrofitting insulation, according to a report prepared for the climate change meeting.

Biggest challenge ever

Cllr Christian Vassie. Photograph: York Lib Dems
Chair of the committee Cllr Christian Vassie said:

  • In declaring a climate emergency, City of York Council has recognised the massive threat to our city and our planet from the consequences of runaway climate change.

    Delivering a zero carbon York by 2030 will be the biggest challenge the city council has ever tackled. But this city knows a thing or two about massive projects; our ancestors built the Minster.

The least polluting local authorities, with the lowest carbon emissions per person, are Argyll and Bute, Highland, Hackney, Lewisham and Harrow, according to the figures.

Areas like Hackney have introduced schemes to encourage walking, cycling and electric vehicles to reduce emissions.

And places like Argyll and Bute have forests and peatland that help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.