Energy and Climate ChangeMemorandum submitted by the Lake District National Park Authority

1. Summary

The Lake District National Park aims to be a leader in responding to climate change, and is working in partnership to develop and manage a consumption-based carbon budget for the local area – the first of its kind.

We have found that consumption-based measures give a much more comprehensive picture of emissions. They include the emissions embedded in imports and supply chains and provide an easily understandable picture of impacts.

With the help of Small World Consulting, we have developed a methodology for estimating emissions on a consumption basis, which has now been used by a number of local areas.

Consumption-based reporting has significant benefits: it gives a comprehensive picture of emissions; developing a “carbon budget” gives people a clear understanding about how much carbon can be “spent”; emissions are attributed to understandable units (such as “food and drink”); indirect emissions associated with behaviour and lifestyles are much better explained through the lens of consumption.

The main drawbacks are that the measurement is more complex, with greater uncertainties; and it makes comparisons between different areas difficult, if different methodologies are used.

On the basis of our experience, we believe that local areas should adopt emissions reduction targets and management strategies based on consumption rather than production. It would also be useful to have national-level consumption-based carbon accounting.

2. About the Lake District National Park Authority

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) looks after the Lake District, the largest of the UK’s 15 National Parks. We aim to be an inspirational example of sustainable development in action, with a prosperous economy, world class visitor experiences, vibrant communities and a spectacular landscape. The National Park is managed with the help of the Lake District National Park Partnership,a group of 24 organisations1 from the public, private and voluntary sector, who collectively own the Vision and Plan for the Lake District.

3. Our Approach to Climate Change

Sixteen million people a year visit the Lake District. Like generations before them, they are inspired by the spectacular landscape of fells and lakes. Yet climate change could alter the Lake District considerably, as weather patterns, agricultural practices and local economies change and adapt. We want to inspire our visitors, residents and businesses to take action. Tackling climate change – through promoting renewable energy, offering sustainable transport alternatives, and encouraging low-carbon tourism – brings economic and social benefits as well as carbon reductions.

In recognition of this, the Low-Carbon Lake District Initiative was established in 2008. Since then, we have:

Secured commitment from the Lake District National Park Partnership to develop and implement a consumption-based carbon budget for the Lake District (see below);

Won a £5 million grant from the Department for Transport to develop a sustainable, low-carbon transport network for the Lake District;

Worked with local tourism organisations to promote low-carbon tourism options;

Participated in the Cumbria Warm Homes Project to offer home energy checks and energy efficiency improvements to local residents;

Worked with partners to promote renewable energy options, particularly small-scale technologies such as hydro and solar PV;

Collaborated with land managers and the farming community to measure and manage carbon storage in the landscape; and

Put initiatives in place to reduce our own emissions by 25%, including energy efficiency improvements, biomass heating and encouraging staff behavior change.

4. The Carbon Budget and Consumption-Based Emissions Reporting

The Lake District is one of the first local areas in the UK to set itself a carbon budget. In 2010 The Lake District National Park Partnership agreed to establish and manage a carbon budget for the National Park as a whole. The process worked as follows:

We commissioned research from Small World Consulting to estimate the carbon emissions from the Lake District National Park, using a consumption-based approach. This showed that the Lake District is responsible for 2.3 million tonnes CO2e (the full report is available at This figure includes travel to and from the Lake District, but does not count business emissions unless goods and services are consumed in the area.

The Lake District National Park Partnership agreed a target to reduce this footprint by 1% per year in line with national statutory carbon budgets as enshrined in the Climate Change Act. This amounts to a reduction of 23,000 tonnes in the first year.

The Partnership developed an Action Plan detailing initiatives put in place to reduce emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases (such as those described above). Different organisations are leading on emissions reduction in transport, tourism, buildings and so on.

The carbon reductions arising from these actions were assessed, again using a consumption-based approach, to measure progress towards the annual target. The latest assessment shows that, in the first full year of the budget, we have identified carbon savings amounting to between 0.3% and 0.5%, falling short of the 1% reduction target.

The Carbon Budget is used to communicate with a wide range of organisations, including local businesses, to explain how the Lake District is managing its carbon emissions.

In this way, the Partnership intends continue to measure, manage and co-ordinate its response to climate change.

Given this experience, the LDNPA offers the following views on the issues being considered by the Committee.

5. How do assessments of greenhouse gas emissions differ when measured on a consumption rather than a production basis?

Consumption-based measures give a much more accurate picture of emissions from the Lake District National Park. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it includes the emissions embodied in imports and supply chains. Secondly, a consumption-based approach is a better way of measuring the impact of the tourism industry, which is a “consumption based” industry – ie measuring the carbon associated with visitors’ use of accommodation, cafes, restaurants, shops and transport services. Third, consumption-based measurement gives a more understandable picture of impacts. It is easier to explain to different groups, such as tourism providers, what the climate change impacts of their actions is, and what they can do to mitigate it.

The table below shows the carbon footprint of the Lake District National Park, measured on a consumption basis.

A clear picture emerges from this data, which differs from a production-based analysis, and offers much better guidance about mitigation strategies. The main differences are as follows:

Household energy use (the top two bars) is a less significant source of emissions than if measured using a production-based approach.

Transport (particularly aviation) is a very significant impact. In terms of guiding action, this means that serious consideration should be given to initiatives that influence how people travel to and from the Lake District. For example, efforts should be made to encourage UK holidaymakers to holiday at home.

Accommodation, food and drink is another significant source of emissions. This is due to the importance of the tourism industry in the Lakes. This points to the importance of encouraging locally sourced, seasonal food, which can have significant carbon benefits. This analysis has led to an increase in work to promote local food.

6. Is it possible to develop a robust methodology for measuring emissions on a consumption rather than production basis and what are the challenges that need to be overcome to deliver this?

The process that we have undertaken (see description above) is a straightforward, practical way of measuring emissions from consumption. The complexity of measuring emissions in this way means that it will only ever be an estimate. However we have found that people value information presented in this way, and understand the inherent uncertainties. They would prefer an estimate of the whole picture of emissions, rather than precision about things that can be measured and disregard of anything that cannot be measured.

Developing clear protocols for measuring consumption-based emissions would help greatly, by allowing comparison between different local areas, companies or countries.

7. What are the benefits of consumption-based reporting?

We have found the following benefits to our approach described above:

It gives a comprehensive picture of emissions, because it includes imports and supply chains.

Using a “carbon budget” framework, based on consumption figures, is helpful because it can be explained in a similar way to a financial budget. Given that there is only a certain amount of carbon that can be “spent”, this approach stimulates discussion on what the carbon should be “spent” on, and how the budget can be managed.

Communication is helped by emissions being attributed to understandable units, such as “food and drink”, or “accommodation”, rather than units of fuel, heat or electricity. This helps to prioritise mitigation actions.

A consumption-based approach is particularly useful for local areas. Local government has less control over, or responsibility for, large sources of direct emissions (such as energy generation plant and manufacturing industry) and more opportunity to influence indirect emissions through behaviour and lifestyles. The latter is better understood through the lens of consumption.

8. What are the disadvantages of consumption-based reporting?

Our experience shows the following disadvantages:

Measuring consumption is more complex, and will only ever provide an estimate of the picture – see discussion above. Nevertheless it provides a more comprehensive picture.

It is difficult to compare with other areas who have used different methodologies. For example, we cannot compare our emissions per capita with areas who have measured their impact using standard production-based techniques. Consumption-based analyses will nearly always (in the UK) result in higher figures for emissions per capita, due to the inclusion of imported goods.

9. Would it be desirable and practicable for the UK to adopt emissions reduction targets on a consumption rather than production basis?

We believe that local areas should adopt emissions reduction targets based on consumption rather than production. As described above, this is a much better measure of the impact of a local area. Since the Lake District National Park defined its carbon budget last year, two other local areas – West Sussex and Greater Manchester – have followed suit.

It would also be useful to have national-level consumption-based carbon accounting, as well as clear protocols for local areas, individual businesses and others who would like to use consumption-based approaches, to enable comparisons.

October 2011

1 Partnership members include: Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT); Environment Agency;Allerdale Borough Council; Forestry Commission; Copeland Borough Council; Friends of the Lake District; Country Land and Business Association; Government Office North West; Cumbria Association of Local Councils; Lake District National Park Authority; Cumbria County Council; National Farmers' Union; Cumbria Tourism; National Trust; Cumbria Vision; Natural England; Cumbria Wildlife Trust; North West Development Agency; Eden District Council; RSPB; English Heritage; South Lakeland District Council; Nurture Lakeland.

Prepared 16th April 2012