New neighbourhood carbon calculator helps communities target action on local emission hotspots

29 June, 2021

Reading time: 2 minutes

We’re excited to announce the launch of our Place-Based Carbon Calculator. A free tool designed to measure carbon footprints at neighbourhood level.

Launched today, the Place-Based Carbon Calculator (www.carbon.place) is a free tool that maps the carbon footprint of every neighbourhood in England. The purpose of the tool is to provide a resource for local government and community organisations to help them plan and enact the changes that are needed to meet net-zero goals and their own climate emergency declarations.

CREDS researchers designed the Place-Based Carbon Calculator (PBCC) as an interactive map of England, allowing you to zoom into any street to see a detailed breakdown of carbon footprints, uptake of low carbon technologies, how well insulated homes are or how far the average resident drives per year. The tool also provides an overview report for each local authority in England and access to new datasets (such as MOT data) that are free to download and use.

Most carbon calculator tools measure individual carbon footprints. The PBCC is deliberately designed to measure carbon footprints at neighbourhood level. This is because individuals are unable to make structural changes – such as building cycle lanes – needed to meet the UK’s net-zero targets. But communities acting through their local council, can build the needed infrastructure or change the economic and social incentives that not only make a low carbon lifestyle possible but also the desirable and easy choice.

The real goal is to reduce carbon emissions not simply measure them, and the PBCC provides data on where the carbon-reduction opportunities lie. Thus, it includes information on, for example, access to public transport and uptake of home insulation. The tool is designed for local authorities to analyse where opportunities lie for them to improve infrastructure and identify the carbon emission hot spots.

 Malcolm Morgan, a CREDS researcher at the University of Leeds, who developed the tool, said:

While every neighbourhood will need to change to enable low carbon lifestyles, there is already a big variation in the size and composition carbon footprints between neighbourhoods. We hope this tool will help communities target their highest carbon-emitting activities and motivate those with the largest footprints to do more.

The Place-Based Carbon Calculator was developed with local authority partners at Transport for the South East and Steer.  Their feedback has been invaluable to ensure the tool’s design is clear and understandable.

In the UK, around 300 local authorities have declared climate emergencies.

Banner photo credit: Ethan Wilkinson on Unsplash

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