Leeds is a city of more than 750,000 people, with an economic output or Gross Value Added (GVA) of more than £21 billion and total annual expenditure on energy of £1.2 billion. It has a target of being carbon neutral by 2030, passed in a Leeds City Council motion in March 2019. 

In passing the Motion, the Council resolved not only to declare a climate emergency, but to sign up to a science based carbon reduction target consistent with achieving the Paris Agreement of no more than 1.5°C global temperature increase. The resolution included working to make Leeds carbon neutral by 2030 and calling on central government to provide the funding and powers to make this possible. (See Leeds Climate Emergency.)

 This target will depend on the adoption of hundreds of energy efficiency and low carbon options across the different sectors in the city. Analysis for Leeds Climate Commission has shown that these options could generate massive savings in energy use and carbon emissions in the city, whilst also leading to wider benefits including job creation, cleaner air, reduced energy poverty, and improved mobility.

The Mini Stern Review for Leeds 2017 found that by 2030, Leeds could save £277 million a year, or £348 a year for everyone in the city, if it exploited all of the profitable measures for energy efficiency and low carbon development. Doing this would also create 3,500 extra years of employment in the city by 2026 and 4,200 by 2030, whilst also cutting its carbon emissions for 22.7% on top of what is happenng anyway. 

Leeds Climate Commission further developed this analysis with a roadmap report, published April 2019; this was superceded by a new Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap for Leeds, published the Commission on 7 January 2021. The updated report shows that the potential for annual energy savings for Leeds is £651m per year if it invests in cost-effective options to reduce carbon emissions, and will create nearly 15,000 years of extra employment, or 1,500 jobs for the next decade. (Read the story and download the report below.

The Commission will help to ensure that these opportunities are turned into reality. It will strengthen networks, build capacities, celebrate successes, transfer good practice and explore ways of raising the investments needed. It will offer independent advice on different options, track progress over time, and seek to change policy and practice to ensure that Leeds’ potential in this area is realised.

Image: River Aire at Granary Wharf, Leeds (Tim Lumley, Unsplash)