In York and North Yorkshire, we have the ambition to be carbon-neutral by 2034 and carbon-negative by 2040. This ambition builds upon our Local Energy Strategy, Circular Economy Strategy and COVID Reshaping Plan to create a greener, fairer and stronger region.
In partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, York & North Yorkshire LEP commissioned a comprehensive study to understand the action required to achieve our ambitious carbon-reduction targets. The Carbon Abatement Pathways Study sets out technically robust pathways to carbon neutral and beyond across an integrated model of the five most carbon-intensive sectors – buildings, transport, industry, power, and land use and agriculture. These pathways were then used to identify key milestones, decision points, policies and interventions that can drive the transition toward these outcomes, including timeframes of actions and roles of stakeholders in their delivery.
The four scenarios for transition to net zero have different speeds of decarbonisation due to varying levels of reliance on core existing and emerging technologies and alignment with other targets. These scenarios (Baseline, Max ambition, High hydrogen, and Balanced) were sense-checked by regional and national experts in the first part of the study, before the in-depth modelling of the sectors.
The modelling was completed in June 2020 and the study moved into its second task – identifying policy interventions that can translate the evidence base into real-world impacts. This task was informed by extensive policy co-design, via sector-specific surveys and wash-up web sessions through July and August 2020, gathering the input of 100 policy-makers across York and North Yorkshire. There was then a further round of review in November 2020, where we began to take forward individual projects based on the study’s recommendations and started to develop an action-oriented Routemap Towards Carbon Negative.
The final report was published in March 2021. The LEP’s Low Carbon and Environment team have been working with key partners to assess the strategic alignment of the policy recommendations, and have led a series of Roundtable events to co-create an evidence-based and stakeholder-led Routemap Towards Carbon Negative.
The success of this research project was partly down to the fact it was borne out of a clearly defined need - our local authorities knew they wanted to reduce district-wide emissions, but they didn't know what to do to tackle them, or where the best place was to start.
The LEP were given a clear remit by the authorities in the patch to try and answer some of these questions, which made it easier to leverage vital stakeholder input throughout the process. It was hard work getting responses from all the people we needed, and sorting through the vast amount of data we got back, so I'd make sure you're able to clear you calendar to do so.
The hardest moment of this project for me was probably the day the consultants walked us through their preliminary findings. As an environmentalist, I already knew that the challenge of decarbonisation would be huge, but when the outputs from the modelling gave clear targets on percentage reduction in private car use and numbers of retrofits every year in our region, it really brought home the massive scale of change we would need to be spearheading.
My top three tips are: to have a really robust kick-off meeting with consultants so all key partners are on the same page with the expectations; never underestimate how much time good stakeholder engagement will take up; don't try to run a significant engagement period over summer or Christmas holidays - everything will take double the time!
Number of stakeholders from key industries engaged during the scenario design phase.