Leeds City Region - Setting science-based targets (SBTs) for a Combined Authority region

The Carbon Trust supported the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership to develop an Energy Strategy and Delivery Plan, setting out how they should target investment and innovation over the next decade, with a timeframe running up to 2036.

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Leeds docks as the sun goes down

The Leeds City Region is a strong energy and innovation hub in the UK. It is one of the largest City Region economies outside London, worth over £64 billion, representing 5% of England’s total economic output, and producing 12% of the UK’s electricity. Furthermore, it is the site of the proposed transformative H21 pilot, which looks to convert the current natural gas grid to hydrogen.

Low Carbon Ambition

The Leeds City Region is a historically energy generating region within the UK, providing it with a strong foundation to lead the UK’s low carbon transition. This strength is exhibited in the regional ambition – to make the Leeds City Region a zero-carbon energy economy.

If carbon emissions reductions are delivered in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement, then by 2036 emissions will be 53% lower, with over £11bn more in annual economic output and 100,000 more jobs.

BEIS distributed funding to LEPs to commission energy strategies for their respective regions, intended to inform each LEP’s Local Inclusive Industrial Strategy. Funding was also provided to establish five regional Energy Hubs, grouping LEP areas together, with a focus on the implementation of the energy strategies.

How did the Carbon Trust help?

What did they need from the Carbon Trust? The LEP needed support to develop an Energy Strategy and Delivery Plan, setting out how they should target investment and innovation over the next decade, with a timeframe running up to 2036. This included extensive stakeholder consultation, a detailed baseline assessment, an impartial assessment of technologies applicable in the region, science based target setting, future energy system modelling, and the development of a delivery plan to help meet ambitious carbon reduction targets. 

The Carbon Trust ran workshops that helped uncover the LEP’s strategic priorities and set a vision, as well as identify projects from across the region. These activities complemented desk-based research, which included a literature review, energy baseline, future energy system modelling and economic analysis, technology options appraisal and project pipeline creation and prioritisation. Furthermore, the LEP has set a precedent by agreeing to pursue being the first UK region to set a science-based target, aligning sectoral emissions reduction pathways to those outlined in the Paris Agreement. The final Energy Strategy and Delivery Plan brought these elements together into a concise leadership document that will provide a roadmap for the low carbon transition in Leeds.

Priorities

  1. Resource-efficient business and industry – increase support to help companies reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions
  2. New energy generation – develop an energy network that provides locally generated low-cost, low carbon energy to homes and businesses, including district heat networks and the landmark H21 hydrogen energy project in Leeds
  3. Energy efficiency and empowering consumers – help households become more energy-efficient, lower their energy bills and reduce fuel poverty
  4. Smart grid systems integration – develop the technology and infrastructure that enables people and businesses to use energy more intelligently
  5. Efficient and integrated transport – target investment and influence transport operators to develop a sustainable transport network, including a greater proportion of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles and increased opportunities for cycling and walking

Challenges

  • Region continues to rely on fossil fuels – only 8.8% of energy consumed is currently provided by renewables (in 2018 the national average was 33%)
  • Estimated 13% increase in energy demand over the next 20 years
  • 12.5% of households in the City Region live in fuel poverty
  • Ensuring the Leeds City Region’s energy-intensive industries remain productive and globally competitive
  • Keep energy costs manageable for businesses and households
  • Reducing carbon emissions to meet national and international targets

Outcomes 

  • Cross-sector stakeholder buy-in and support for the vision and energy strategy, and commitment to its delivery
  • Clear understanding of the current and forecasted state of play with respect to energy in the Leeds City Region, and of the economic value associated with taking action
  • Support for being the first UK region to set a Science Based Target and commitment to take the steps necessary for this target to be adopted
  • Prioritised project pipeline and delivery plan, setting out projects that will help the LEP deliver against its ambitions and vehicles for their delivery (e.g. the ELENA funded Energy Accelerator and Local Energy Hub).
  • An Energy Strategy and Delivery Plan that will deliver increased economic growth and productivity, inclusive growth that benefits everyone and reduced carbon emissions

Key facts

  • If the Leeds City Region was to reduce carbon emissions in line with the targets set in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, by 2036 it would see more than £11bn increase in annual economic output and 100,000 more jobs
  • The top ten projects identified deliver a carbon saving of 3,173 ktCO2, 63% of the Paris Climate Change Agreement requirement, and the equivalent of taking 680,000 cars off the road for a year, or driving a car to the moon and back over 16,000 times
  • Since 2005 CO2 emissions in Leeds City Region have fallen 38%