What was the challenge?
Hampshire County Council (HCC) declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019 and decided to set both mitigation and adaptation targets: to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to build resilience to the impacts of a 2°C rise in temperature across Hampshire.
To help reach its carbon neutrality target, HCC needed baseline data and a carbon budget in order to better understand what sectors it should focus. In addition, it also wanted to develop key programmes to progress on both carbon mitigation and adaptation.
According to Hampshire County Council, it chose to work with us as we have previously provided robust advice to the County Council, are a reputable supplier and are very experienced in this field of work.
How did we help?
To assist HCC with achieving its mitigation target we began by producing two carbon footprints for Hampshire: a council-estate Scope 3 footprint, and a county-wide carbon footprint with five-yearly carbon budgets to 2050. At the county level, we also completed decarbonisation pathway modelling across four scenarios to identify long-term mitigation opportunities.
Informed by the footprint assessment and calculations, we identified a range of carbon and risk reduction intervention opportunities, covering: planning powers, domestic and commercial retrofit, transport, smart grids, EV charging infrastructure, large-scale low carbon energy generation, and sustainable drainage.
The carbon budget for HCC’s administrative boundary was calculated – establishing the total carbon emissions allowable while remaining within the limits of a 1.5°C trajectory. From this, we then defined five-yearly carbon budgets and an annual emissions reduction pathway that could be used to set interim targets to track progress.
We also developed a Carbon Impact Assessment Tool to help embed carbon into HCC’s decision-making processes. The tool acts an as initial guide to steer decision-making across the council’s strategic priority areas: transport, building and infrastructure, energy generation and distribution, residential, natural environment, waste, and green economy.
To help HCC with its adaptation target, we began by updating Hampshire’s climate risk assessment using the latest climate projections for the UK, drawing on UKCP18 climate projection data. We then went on to deliver a highly innovative calculation of the economic cost of taking no adaptation action to climate risks from 2020-2100. This focused on two hazards in particular (extreme rainfall and heatwaves) across public buildings, commercial sites, public health and productivity, showing the increase in annual risk exposure over time for the county.
What were the benefits?
“The Carbon Trust has helped us set the foundations of our work by developing the baseline data, a strategic framework and decision making tools. The Framework for Strategic Programmes will continue until 2050, with five-yearly milestones, and all climate change actions across the organisation will continue to be monitored within the Action Plan and strategic framework,” said Chitra Nadarajah, Strategic Manager – Climate Change at Hampshire County Council.
The tools act as a guide, allowing officers to build their knowledge and understanding, raising awareness of climate change across all departments, and offer an innovative way of embedding climate change thinking into everything we do. Together with subsequent impact assessment support they will offer a transparent and robust way recording and monitoring process of how climate change is considered across the whole authority.
Staff are now incorporating a climate change impact assessment as part of their decision reports, using the two decision tools. It’s helped raise awareness amongst staff about both their decisions’ impact on climate change as well as the impact of climate change on their decision. This has created transparency in the way we record and monitor how climate change is considered across the whole authority. Staff are also beginning to use the tools from the start of projects to embed climate change from the start.
The baseline data and carbon budget pathways assisted with the strategy by identifying the sectors with the largest emissions and so helped inform strategic priorities. Many of the areas, such as transport and waste, were already managed by existing teams at HCC, however energy and residential emissions were identified as a gap that the climate change team have subsequently been addressing with multiple community projects launched in the past year.
The Carbon Trust overlaid Hampshire-specific based policies, strategies and stakeholder engagement workshops to develop a series of pathways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To also ensure Hampshire is resilient to a 2°C rise in temperature by 2050, they also provided adaptation support to identify the impacts of climate change, pathways and projects to increase resilience.
By combining mitigation and adaptation agendas into a holistic, joined-up package of support, this project will put the County Council at the forefront of climate action planning in the UK.