Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions at a Local Level

7074 words (28 pages) Dissertation

13th Dec 2019 Dissertation Reference this

Tags: Environmental StudiesSocial Policy

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(Nottinghamshire Greenhouse Gas Emission’s Case)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The role played by Nottinghamshire in sustainable development is evident based on the laurels it is getting from different organizations like the Queens Award and European Union through her Remourban pilot project. Notwithstanding, there is need to continually review city performance against this available baseline information on greenhouses emissions and general environmental management. From the baseline information, the highest sources of greenhouse gases emission in the county to forcing climate change emissions arises from buildings, transportation, street lighting and waste. This affects air quality due to the mix of carbon dioxide. These missions have severe consequences on the natural environment, human health and pose a significant threat to future species within the local counties and the nation in general. Future emission scenarios are drawn up in the report to help the hypothesis of present strategies to be taken to ensure that emissions are reduced to the barest minimum. In addition, pragmatic targets for emission reduction by 80% by 2050, 60% by the midterm (2030) and 40% at the interim are set with the aim of keeping emission as low as possible other than a business as usual approach activities in the county are contained in this report. In the light of this, the Nottinghamshire authority, local industries and academic institutions can provide a niche stakeholder forum for synergy in creating a culture that promotes sustainability. Green and mitigation approaches through collaboration, monitoring, and enforcement, low carbon installation and switching to sustainable urban transport, a collection of waste for a more efficient recycling, alternative energy generation from wind, solar and geothermal; are possible sustainability practices. Nottinghamshire can help in sustaining these approaches through policy effective communication strategies through group meetings, organizing conferences and workshops, online webinars, social media, use of the mainstream electronic and mass media and emails/ letters to appropriate stakeholders

1       INTRODUCTION

Climate change impacts have remained unstable and continued to take toll on the welfare of most societies around the world (developed and developing countries alike). Geological and atmospheric records have continued to reveal dramatic fluctuations in global mean temperature over multidecadal timescale. Over the years, the earth has continued to warm unexpectedly as a result man’s influence (anthropogenic effect). Investigations revealed that global mean temperature has increased in addition to the rise in sea level and gross reduction in snow cover and declining glaciers in the North Pole. The overall effect arises from the cumulative impact of human activities such as transportation, industrial manufacturing, energy generation, agricultural activities, and poor management of waste and forest wealth. Following a business as usual approach, these changes are bound to continue and the impacts will be felt across urban and rural cities across the world. These could have a detrimental impact on air and water quality leading to the possible spread of diseases and complicated sanitation management for urban cities. Critical infrastructure could be subjected to high risks and lives could be lost in numbers. Climate impacts are also argued to exacerbate migration and mass movement of people in search of resources which could become very scarce around the world. Scarce resources possess severe danger as a struggle for survival could trigger hate and intolerable attitudes in local and commercial communities across the globe.  This calls for pragmatic actions by international, national and local governments and the private sector to emancipate actions towards climate change mitigation.

The desire to improve the environmental management system geared towards mitigation has continued to gain relevance around the world in recent times to promote an integrated society committed to improving local habits that could force climate change. These management systems are combined strategies needed to ensure that local conditions in different societies though may differ but are properly understood and replicated in other local effort communities. These strategies are aimed at ensuring that long-term healthy climate system is maintained and if possible, communities can live with some spatial impacts already in place. Local authorities and County Councils are developing climate mitigation strategies that keep carbon emission emissions as low as possible through a reduction in domestic and institutional carbon footprints. Some of these strategies include:

  1. Data gathering and analysis; this involves the collection of local emission scenarios information through stakeholder consultation and partnership; including rural dwellers and urban environmental managers. This information is evaluated to underpin the likely emission loopholes and possible ways of addressing them in line with sustainable development plans. Data gathering and evaluation also help local communities to discover aspects of vulnerability and proposal of appropriate adaptation mechanisms; through participatory action plans.
  2. Policy drivers; different city councils have developed local policies for climate mitigation. For example, London city council set overall reduction of Co2 emission of 60% by 2025 and expect that local organisations and London borough will work towards the target plan by monitoring households emissions scenarios, designing efficient and sustainable transport systems, use of renewable materials and energy consumption. This policy has been replicated across many cities in England and across the UK with each council developing own implementation strategies. A typical example is the SMART CITY development phenomenon where IT systems are used to monitor energy consumption and transport emission footprint.
  3. Economic Assistance; regional governments such as the European Union currently support local councils in developing SMART CITIES. These cities are to serve as models for improved energy efficiency in sustainable buildings and the generally built systems, support new cultures of urban transport models, and integration of ICT in infrastructural management. The EU economic assistance through her REMOURBAN project aimed to excite citizens into active actors of the sustainable renovation of local cities and foster the market for smart cities.

In the light of this, this report will seek to understand how Nottinghamshire County Council can improve its commitment towards climate change mitigation and lesson that can be learnt. It will use the baseline information from the earlier assessment to evaluate how it can generate different scenarios that can inform climate change mitigation through the reduction of carbon and other greenhouse gases emission. These strategies will be highlighted in the short, medium and long-term view to ensure that the council aligns its objectives to regional and international climate change emission reduction strategies as proposed by the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

2.      SUMMARY OF THE BASELINE GHG EMISSIONS INVENTORY  

This section summarizes the Nottinghamshire anthropogenic climate induce emission baseline data shown in Figure 1. As per 2005 and 2006 climate change results, buildings contributed the most to the greenhouse gas emissions at 59% of total emissions in Nottinghamshire. The buildings had contributed 64800 tons of greenhouse gases. In addition, street lighting, transport and waste contributed 11700, 25184, and 8640 tons respectively per year. The total emissions were at 110,324 tons per year. Particularly, most emissions in the UK come from the transport sector. Cars and other freight vehicles contribute to these emissions (Clegg, Mancarella 2018). 

2.2       Future Emissions Scenarios (Not Business as Usual)

The population at Nottinghamshire is growing every day. With time, the increase in the level of Population is demanding more energy for socio-economic activities to sustain their survival. On the other hand, there is an increase in the population pressure on the available resources as the number of firms continue to increase. The buildings not only increase energy use, but also reduce the availability of land under vegetation that is important in carbon sequestration – balancing the amount of carbon emissions in the air (Rosenvald, Rosenvald 2017). As the number of housing units increase, the demand for the social amenities like street lighting, schools and hospitals increase proportionately (Clegg, Mancarella 2018). On the other hand, demand for goods and services increases within the region leading to an increase in the level of transportation to meet the demand for local goods. In fact, as the population welfare continues to improve the demand for energy increases within Nottinghamshire with the high potential for emission increase. Thereafter, more residents may purchase vehicles for mobility in accessing different services and products within the county council. It is evident that climate change is attributed to a vicious cycle, which, if not well monitored can affect the implementation of climate-change-mitigation policies (Ojha, Pattnaik et al. 2018). Such activities require proactive strategies that may lead to energy saving measures in Nottinghamshire. In light of this, Nottinghamshire has been able to improve its the Robin Hood Energy initiative that has improved the use of cleaner energy at low cost. This is important in changing business mentality to allow adoption of cleaner practices.

2.3       Demand for Sustainable Resources

Organisations are demanding processes that can improve the performance of different processes. This has bolstered the implementation of the ISO 14001 standards that can improve the performance of different organisations in reducing loss of resources in production (Heras-Saizarbitoria 2018). This also leads to the production of sustainable products (International Organization for Standardization, 2015, p. 2). It is against this background that the demands for products like the solar panels are gaining use in Nottinghamshire. These are meant to make use of the solar energy. These products can guarantee Nottinghamshire an opportunity to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions (My Nottingham News, 2015). In a bid to improve the organisational contribution in the use of resources, organisations are improving the use of their resources to add extra electricity they make to the national grid (Hall & Roelicha, 2016, p. 297). This may improve the supply of electricity, though on the contrary, it leads to an increase in the emission of greenhouse gases. Thus, there is the need to adopt products that use sustainable and renewable resources like the solar energy. In a bid to increase their revenues, municipalities are embracing the production of electricity. However, since the population will increase failure of solar energy to meet the demands of the population will lead to an increase in the rate of substitution of solar energy for electricity. Thus, the future demands strategies that require integration of municipalities and consumer demands (Hall & Roelicha, 2016, p. 292). This will help deliver a balanced strategy that promotes a balance between societal and environmental needs. 

The climate change consequences have increased the rate of growth of the vegetation and nesting of birds in Nottinghamshire. This demands an increase in the efforts of maintenance of vegetation by the municipal (UK Climate Impacts Programme, 2011). In the coming years, the vegetation may increase, which may increase the carbon emissions as the municipality seeks to improve the quality of its environment. However, the increase in vegetation presents an opportunity for the county to increase its afforestation efforts in the acreage of its forest. In fact, there will be a need for the municipality to increase the conservation and protection of its forests, as they will be under encroachment as land for development becomes scarcer. This may help reduce the greenhouse emissions as the plants utilise the carbon in growth. Moreover, an increase in the vegetation may present organisations in Nottinghamshire an opportunity to explore the need for a created shared value to promote environmental sustainability, as the environment is benign for cooperation in mitigating climate change. Consecutively, the increase in population will not only increase the goods and services demand but also waste associated with consumption. Therefore, the county ought to establish structures that can utilise the waste to meet societal needs. This can be through recycling or reuse. 

3          FUTURE EMISSION SCENARIOS

It is been generally argued by scientists that global temperature will soar by the end of the 21st century (the 2100) due to anthropogenic emissions. Some argued that the world could warm up to between 1.4’C to 5.8’C. The gap between the suggested possible temperatures exists due to the earth uncertainties that lead to the planning for different temperatures scenarios. A report by the IPCC identifies four (4) representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to estimate future emission scenarios that showed how the earth will warm by 2100. The rapid mitigation (RCP 2.6) is shown to keep warming above pre-industrial epoch up to 2.3’C by 2100 while runaway emission scenario (RCP 8.5) is estimated to warm the earth between 3.2 – 5.4’C by the same period of time. See figure below.

How then will these scenarios impact on local communities and cities is crucial to underpin the mitigation measures that could target emission reduction. Are there possible ways which local councils can reduce emission and carbon footprints? What lesson can be learnt from present sustainability programmes and they point towards a less warm world by 2100. Council actions are required to plan but for different temperatures scenarios which scientist depends on; which describes a business as usual case and emission reduction and sustainability strategy’s scenarios. With this in mind, this report aimed at producing an emission reduction for Nottingham Local Council need to be more pragmatic in developing local reduction targets base on these scenarios. In this report, a proposal is drawn up to foster three (3) possible emission scenarios for Nottingham City, United Kingdom:

3.2       Business as usual scenario for Nottingham City:

This scenario is generated in terms of some key indicators of growth such as population, fossil energy prices and GDP. The projected population for Nottingham is obtained from literature to develop relevant projections in the context of local systems. However, the Council’s population is estimated at 325300 and projections suggest this will increase to 332,700 by 2024 and 865,000 by 2030. Going into the future beyond 2050, the city is unlikely to witness a rise in population as compared to other cities but the number of aged 85+ could increase significantly. Increase in the population indicates more energy and transport demand. The implication of this without sustainability approaches aimed at emission reduction implies that greenhouse gases will continue to be emitted leading to the estimated minimum temperature.  Other factors that may cause a business as usual growth emissions include projected GDP growth is Britain take over control of the economy and financial aids to European countries are stopped. These finances could be further managed to boost the economy supported by a reduction in immigration into the city. Human attitudes at this point may need to be properly tailored such that they don’t impact the earth negatively.

3.3       Technical fix scenarios:

In this scenario, policies are deemed to be implemented at local council levels for emission reduction. Some of these policies include that: 1) 30% of cars driven in Nottingham should be electric cars by the year 2050. This implies that car dealers in Nottinghamshire must reduce importation of fossil energy cars by 30% and replace same with electric cars by 2050. More so, there is a need for investment in solar systems (PVC) by the city council in partnership with the European Union through this could be challenged by the Brexit issue. Households in the county need to go off the grid by installing solar panels on the roof of their homes to generate green energy. These PVCs can be subsidized by the by County council or have the cost spread for customer convenience and patronage.  Generally, Nottingham is know as a green city because of the REMOBURN partnership; which has developed local strategies for investments in smart energy communities with a strict focus on district heating system and retrofitting, Low carbon transport technologies (tram links shown below) need to be powered by solar batteries systems. The partnership also aim to providing local assistance for small and medium enterprises to focus on innovations. Though there is no clear way of monitoring these process efficiently, it is believed that some improved work will be done to ensure that emissions are drastically
reduced.

 c.         Everything Green scenario: Given that not all the mitigation actions taken are implemented efficiently and effectively as proposed, this scenario suggests that there will be 100% reduction of in local emission. It implies that there is a substantial amount of reduction in GHG emissions from transport, household usage and waste management – including from agricultural practices in the countryside.  

4.         EMISSION REDUCTION TARGETS

These are the targets that could be set by the County aimed at reducing the level of emissions from areas that have been identified in the baseline.

4.1       Reducing Carbon Emissions by 80% come 2050

The target of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is set as the UK government long-term climate change mitigation target, and as such it is binding on the Nottinghamshire council. There is an expected increase in the population that has seen most property developers in the United Kingdom improve their efforts in improving available infrastructure. This will present new challenges and increase the carbon emissions associated with the construction sector. In Nottinghamshire, the population increase will demand social facilities that will require that organisations invest in social enterprises for a sustainable society. Thus, need to ensure that every year the county should address its infrastructural development to ensure it meets carbon reduction targets of 80% come 2050 (Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs, 2016; Committee on Climate Change, 2016).

4.2       Reducing Carbon Emission by 60% by 2030

The government expects that the efforts of all county councils will help bring carbon emission to 60% by the year 2030 (Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs, 2016). This is a medium-term target set by the city council. It then follows that there are sustainable practices that ensure that this target is met by 2030. 

4.3       Reduce Local Carbon Emissions by 40% by 2020

In the short term plan, the city council aims to bring carbon emission down by 40% of 1990 level by the year 2020. Since the rate at which regions are emitting carbon is at a rate of 3-4% there is a need to ensure that Nottinghamshire reduces its carbon emissions by approximately 40% come 2020. This is important as it will eliminate the effects of climate change by an extra 0.2%, ensuring that the positive benefits are greater than the externalities (Committee on Climate Change, 2016).

5          MEETING THE 2050 TARGET

Inorder to meet the 2050 objective of the city council, it will require a year to year reduction of CO2 of around 2% of current level. However, taking into account the estimated population growth in the council, a more than 2% reduction in CO2 emission yearly will be required to meet the 2050 target. A technical fix in the form of a substantial use of renewable energy for meeting the growing energy demand is a sustainable strategy. Nottingham has already developed a local utility called Robinhood, which uses incinerator heat, solar power and waste food plants to generate electricity at cheaper rates for the people. However, the local utility can benefit meeting the 2050 target if it expands more in order to be able to accommodate future subscribers. The expansion of Robinhood energy services ensures insulation against high energy prices, low-carbon energy supply for businesses and domestic sector. The stakeholders that need to reinforce partnership to expand this sustainable energy delivery include the city waste management board, Nottingham energy partnership, private investors and the city council. Another renewable energy source that can add to the sustainable supply is wind energy and bioenergy generation.

5.1     The Green approach to 2050 target – a secondapproach to meeting the reduction of carbon emission by 2050 is a substantial reduction in energy use. Energy use in the homes can be reduced by the use of wall insulations to reduce heat demand. Also, the use of renewable energy with local government incentives to encourage participation will be adopted. This includes lowering tax on energy generated from renewable sources.  The council can achieve this strategy through encouraging installation of building energy management system as well as efficient lighting systems. District heating or the use of combined heat and power is another strategy to ensure sustainable energy procurement and reduce carbon emission in order to meet the long-term plan of 2050. It is however difficult for the scope of this study to estimate percentage reduction when adopting these strategies. The cost of this strategy will be paid through green incentives to encourage replacement of boilers, use of green energy and the private sector through replacement of commercial lighting while the public sector finance pays for expansion of district heating.

5.2     Meeting the 2030 target – the medium-term target is to reduce carbon emission by 60% in the year 2030. Sustainable transport approach – one major sector that contributes greatly to CO2 emission is transport sector. In this approach, the Nottingham city council will liaise with all organisations to adopt a green transport policy. The policy shall begin with every organization critically evaluating the need for a staff to travel. If after evaluation there is an actual need to travel, then the greenest possible means is used. Starting with walking to work, or cycling, or use of public transportation to the use of green cars. If this sustainable transport is adopted in organisations across the county, then a significant reduction in carbon emission can be achieved.

Also, the Nottingham’s Local Transport Plan (“the plan”) has been formulated to continue to upgrade transport networks, support sustainable transport modes, encourage public transport and encourage more walking and cycling. The biggest challenge, however, is funding. Just like any mega project, the private-public partnership is usually a better way of carrying out such projects. The expansion of the tram network and increase in public transport system will be included in “the plan” to curb carbon emission.

5.3     Meeting the 2020 target –in theshort term, the council shall commence the carbon emission reduction strategies by creating more awareness on the need for organisations and individuals to buy into the integrated approach to cutting carbon emission down. The council’s energy centre creates awareness through website, seminars, exhibitions, training, grant availability, energy saving measures, renewable energy information etc. The medium-term target can also be hit by behavioural changes, the use of smart meters and efficient waste disposal systems. A committee is set up to plan, manage and evaluate the integrated climate change strategies. This committee shall comprise of technical experts, private sector representatives and public sector representatives.

In summary, as shown in the climate-related baseline information above, energy consumption from buildings and transportation plays an important role in the contribution to anthropogenic climate change in Nottingham. More so, there is a high potential for population growth as the universities continue to grow in ranking and the city being peaceful. This will result in more demand for transport vehicles (personal and commercial use). Therefore, the county could make policies that emphasize on the use of hybrid vehicles that depends on renewable fuels. On the other hand, they can encourage firms to adopt supply management systems that reroute some of the commercial vehicles to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases associated with logistics management (Okuniek, Beckmann 2017). 

The increase in population will demand more sustainable practices in architectural designs of buildings and offices. This will help ensure that organisations are using modern technology like Building Information Modelling that will lead to the development of buildings that have low energy demands. This is because the technology will allow the calculation of the expected carbon emissions that it will add to the ecosystem before its construction (Peng, 2016, p. 462). By 2050, this may help promote sustainable living conditions that require less energy. In fact, by 2020 the constructed buildings should meet the provisions of the UK Government in possessing a zero carbon rate. Consecutively, these houses should have the potential to reduce the encroachment of land. In fact, due to the growth of the property market, there will be more vibrant that may lead to the construction of buildings that ignore the county provisions for safer construction that endangers its occupants. Therefore, the need for regulation should increase to develop safer buildings that are ecologically sustainable. 

6                    OTHER MITIGATION MEASURES 

In planning for the future emission scenarios some mitigation measures need to be in place in the city. Some of these include a focus on energy efficiency in residential homes and public buildings where heating, insulation, and lighting systems are adequately checked using technology. Policy and projects aimed at directing the efficient use of available infrastructure and equipment and energy generation from renewable sources of medium scale systems are highly emphasised (Zheng, Zhang et al. 2018). Upgrade of critical and relevant infrastructure is suggested to replace existing plants with the aim of reducing the cost of energy as well as carbon emissions. The upgrade of systems and replacement could further improve the resilience and resistant ability of critical infrastructure to other impacts (Pursiainen 2017).

  • In planning to execute these mitigation options, relevant partners and stakeholders need to be carried along to ensure that decision making process is transparent, coherent and holistic (Evans, Yu et al. 2018). Stakeholder participation in reducing GHG emissions has been emphasized by researchers in the energy management and argued to be the best medium in addressing community and local services partnerships (Evans, Yu et al. 2018). It is therefore crucial for Nottingham City Council to ensure that charity organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green Party, Local community groups etc. are called into the decision-making circle. This could eliminate the conflict of interest and improve the process of plan execution. Table one summarises actions expected by specific stakeholders for any suggested role in meeting GHG emissions mitigation targets for Nottingham City Council.

7.                COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES

Communicating future mitigation options has challenged some organisations in the past (Sanchez, Hampson et al. 2017, Markvica, Millonig et al. 2017). This is because people react to climate change issues different issues depending on their type of business, political affiliation and general beliefs regarding climate change. In broader terms, some people denied that the future climate will change significantly due to anthropogenic effects while some express scepticism and sit on the fence on scientific predictions. These mix beliefs and trust are argued to have impeded the smooth communication of adaptation and mitigation plans toward to some segments of the public. More so, because mitigation has a direct impact on businesses such as fossil energy vendors, transport companies and manufacturers, some opposition in accepting the mitigation measures to achieving the long-term targets might be very challenging in some places (Klinsky, Brankovic 2018).

However, the focus of communication strategy differs slightly from those designed to engage sceptics and denials. The strategies in this report suggest the communication system which local communities in the city can use to emphasize how emission reduction targets can be transmitted to all relevant stakeholders in the context of Nottingham City Council. These strategies are highlighted to ensure that local communities around the city adapt efficiently to council’s plans for emission reduction in the mid-term (2030) and long-term 2050.  The table below highlights some of the relevant strategic communication opportunities that Nottingham City Council may adopt to ensure that the message of emission reduction gets to all stakeholders:


8.                CONCLUSION

Emissions from buildings and transport are shown as the highest sources of greenhouse gases emissions in Nottinghamshire. However, the County is one of the cities with strong opportunities for green systems implementation aimed at reducing GHG emissions by 2030 and 2050 targets in the UK and Europe. To achieve this, the performance of Nottinghamshire in environmental sustainability would depend on the role that the community will play in influencing the general society to engage in green attitudes (energy efficiency in buildings, effective legislation and policies framework towards emission reduction from transport and adequate environmental management and conservation. There is need to engage the society through suitable communication strategies with identified stakeholders to develop sustainable practices that may affect the environment positively in terms of energy consumption and general environmental management. This may compel the need for sustainable activities for the organization as the population of the city is hypothesized to increase by 2050 and even beyond. It also requires that the management at Nottinghamshire adopt transformative leadership qualities that align with monitoring and evaluation of the county and firms in sustainable management practices. This makes it easier for organisations involved in certification of firms in environmental management. As illustrated in this report, reducing carbon emissions requires that all stakeholders understand the importance of reducing carbon emissions that will generate efforts to sustain eco-activities in Nottinghamshire. This is key in promoting environmental, social and political integration that can bolster a climate that supports long-term strategies, up to 2050 period in mitigating emissions.        

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