Exhaust fumes from motor vehicles are a major source of carbon emissions
Exhaust fumes from motor vehicles are a major source of carbon emissions

The Lib Dem-Green council has been accused of greenwashing and misleading the public over a carbon neutral 2030 ambition after it confirmed the target won’t include a majority of carbon emissions.

The council’s Lib Dem Executive Member for Environment, Cllr. Paula Widdowson, confirmed recently that due to the ‘complexity and uncertainty of consumption emissions data’, known as scope 3 emissions, that these will not be counted towards ruling councillors’ carbon neutral target. Scope 3 emissions tend to account for the majority of carbon emissions when the three different scopes are combined.

Labour Group Leader, Cllr. Pete Kilbane, spoke at a public meeting yesterday to raise concerns over openness and transparency.

“Residents in York are very engaged on the climate crisis,” he said, “and want to do their bit, but unfortunately they are only being given a partial picture.  It is pointless for ruling politicians to be going around saying York will be carbon neutral by 2030, when the reality is they mean carbon neutral based on say, just 30% or 40% of the city’s total carbon impact.

“This is exactly the kind of spin that leads the public to lose respect for politicians.  We need more honesty about the challenge the city faces if it is to become genuinely carbon neutral, something most politicians in York actually want to see”.

A report considered by the Executive Member  confirmed scope 1 and 2 (largely fuel and energy generated emissions) will be counted in recording both the council’s and the city’s overall emissions, but scope 3* will not be counted in reports informing the 2030 target due to being ‘less under the control of actors within the city’.

“In its net zero target the Council doesn’t include up 70% of emissions caused elsewhere by the city’s activities,” said Cllr Kilbane, ” for example processing all domestic waste outside York. That’s cheating. All of York’s roads would be in Grade A condition if we didn’t count particular types of potholes, but that would be nonsensical.

“Establishing and acting on the city’s carbon impact is an existential issue for us all.  This means we need politicians to be serious and to be prepared to tell the truth to residents, not massage the figures in order to claim successes that are really failures in the context of the climate crisis”.


*A simple short guide to scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions: https://compareyourfootprint.com/difference-scope-1-2-3-emissions/

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