'This Sheffield report on reducing city's carbon footprint will have a dramatic effect on your life'

The report “Pathways to Zero Carbon Sheffield” is a detailed document showing how Sheffield can dramatically reduce its carbon footprint.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:00 am
Protest held on Devonshire Green in Sheffield

Following protests and petitions by Extinction Rebellion, the council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019. At last there is now a plan to achieve big cuts in our carbon emissions. This report is going to have a dramatic effect on your life in the next few years.

The report stresses the importance of immediate action. “We must always remember that failure to reduce our emissions down to zero will result in consequences that are unimaginable.

"The runaway effects of climate change are already starting to be seen in real manifestations from global biodiversity loss and devastating wildfires to local extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves.”

Sheffield buses

The council’s role in reducing emissions is one of leader and facilitator. Many of the actions are directed at the Council, but can’t be carried out by the council in isolation.

"Ultimately, large-scale emissions reductions will be achieved as a result of many thousands of small actions that, in isolation, may seem insignificant. Momentum is essential to these small actions.”

The report examines five sectors – domestic, commercial and industrial, transport, energy and land use - and shows how they can reduce emissions by 85 per cent.

The remaining 15 per cent depends on the National Grid converting to renewables.

Within our homes, gas consumption constitutes approximately 71% of emissions and electricity consumption 25%. Our housing stock urgently needs retrofitting to maximise its energy efficiency. This will be disruptive to house owners and tenants, but will have the massive benefits of lower bills and warmer homes. We need to move away quickly from heating and cooking with gas, to cooking with electricity produced by renewables and heating with heat pumps or connecting to district heat networks. More efficient household appliances can also reduce energy consumption. Many houses and flats need insulation measures and LED lights.

The commercial and industrial sector needs similar improvement to its buildings and heating.

Transport is the area that relies most greatly on behaviour change. The report seeks to increase active travel such as walking and cycling, increase public transport, consolidate freight and decarbonise all vehicles.

To reduce emissions from energy production the report envisages expanding Sheffield’s district heating system.

Some 200,000 homes will need to be converted from gas boilers to air source heat pumps. For heat pumps to work efficiently, homes will need to be well insulated and draught-proofed. Heat pumps produce heat at lower temperatures than traditional boilers and so radiators may need to be replaced by those better suited to operate at lower temperatures. As it will take time to ramp up the supply chain, it is anticipated that this intervention would start to be implemented from 2025 and an average of around 40,000 properties per year would need to have heat pumps installed between 2025 and 2030. As with switching to electric cooking, it is recommended that gas boilers are phased out when they reach their normal replacement cycle, being replaced with heat pumps. However, there is likely to be a significant number of boilers that are still in operation that would need to be replaced ahead of the cycle end. House owners and landlords should be preparing for this now.

In Land Use the report advocates extending tree cover and restoring peat bogs which are significant carbon sinks.

The report strongly asserts the need for immediate action. “This programme should be prepared and agreed without delay. An imperfect plan agreed now will achieve much more than a perfect plan agreed in six months’ time.”

Download the report at www.arup.com.