Net Zero Cotswolds

 

Background

In March 2022, we welcomed our first Climate Action Lead to the CNL team. This is a pioneering new role for the Cotswolds, and we are excited to see where it takes us.

An image of Mike Elliott standing in a field, with cattle in the background

Mike Elliott is the Climate Action Lead for Cotswolds National Landscape ©Russell Sach

Mike Elliott will be working to set us on the right path to achieving our Climate Crisis Commitment: blending in-house collaboration, partnership working, and on-the-ground action to help us understand the current baseline for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and potential pathways to achieving net zero in the Cotswolds National Landscape.

Mike will be working to increase our carbon literacy, which will be essential for good decision making in the future.

 

 

 

Climate emergency

There’s no denying that we are in the midst of a climate crisis: global and UK average temperatures have increased by around 1.2˚C since the 1850–1900 period. UK Government has now set a national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to net zero by 2050. But what does that mean in the Cotswolds?

Starting with research

We have recognised the need to become more ‘carbon literate’ so recently we commissioned Small World Consulting to report on current carbon levels in the Cotswolds, and the following key findings are of particular interest:

    • The carbon footprint of Cotswold residents is around 26% higher than the UK average
    • To meet net zero by 2050 in the Cotswolds, we need to decrease our use of energy or greenhouse gas emissions from energy production by about 14% a year
    • Cotswolds residents’ per capita footprint from flying is over 2.5 times higher that the UK average
    • About 1/3 of an individual’s carbon footprint relates to food and drink – but in the Cotswolds, our food and drink footprint is around 10% above the UK average
    • About half of the carbon footprint of visitors to the Cotswolds (excluding flights) is attributable to food and drink
    • Emissions from household electricity and driving are, respectively, around 35% and 30% higher in the Cotswolds than for an average UK resident.

Thinking individually, collectively, and differently…

There are many factors at play producing these hard-hitting figures, but what is undeniable is that to make improvements, we all need to act – and we need to act now.

    • Can frequent business flyers choose to fly less?
    • Can we insulate our homes better, or more?
    • Can we use or switch to green energy?
    • Can we change our working practices to work from home more, and travel less?
    • Can we holiday in the UK instead of flying abroad?
    • Can we reduce our red meat consumption?
    • Can we buy lower carbon footprint food and drink, and support local farmers more?

The suggestions above are all choices and actions we can make as individuals. But we also need to scale up… what can businesses do to help, and what landscape-scale choices can we make to help towards decarbonization?

    • How do we better employ cover crops?
    • How do we support farmers to minimise tillage?
    • Should we reduce the amount of livestock in the landscape?
    • How do we harness renewable energies?
    • How can nature recovery help the climate emergency?
    • How can pubs and restaurants decarbonise their menus?

Importantly, how can all these options be employed and combined so that the needs of society are balanced with the needs of the environment?

What next?

Working towards a net zero Cotswolds is ambitious.
Decreasing annual energy use by 14% will be a challenge.
But we must all make changes.

Mike is keen to connect with businesses, farmers, landowners, and residents of all ages, whose perspectives and local knowledge can help build a pathway to a net zero Cotswolds. Get in touch with her here: mike.elliott@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk

We will be updating this page with more information as Mike’s work progresses – please keep checking back for updates.