Understanding the Carbon Emissions of your area
First, you may want to understand where the carbon emissions associated with your area are coming from.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy, working with the University of Exeter, have also produced a parish council carbon footprint tool to help you understand the sources of carbon emissions in your area. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has resources to help local councils tackle climate change including case studies. It’s important to remember the figures are based on calculations for a larger area, so you’re level of influence will vary at a local level, but it’s an important understanding to get from the start
In addition to this, there is also the 'place-based carbon calculator'* which is a free tool recently made available which estimates the per-person carbon footprint for every Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) in England. LSOAs are small statistical areas with a population of about 1,500 - 3,000. It draws on a wide range of data and research to give a representative view of how carbon footprints vary across the country. You can access the tool by clicking here.
*This tool was produced with funding from UK Research and Innovation through the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions. The site is operated by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) project on behalf of the University of Leeds and the University of Oxford.
Understanding the carbon footprint of your Town or Parish Council
The Local Government Associated created a Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool to help organisations with this, it can be found here
You’ll need to decide whether you only want to report and decarbonisation emissions which you have direct influence over (Scope 1 and Scope 2) such as owned and occupied building energy use, parish council-owned vehicle use, or whether you want to report on direct and indirect emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) Scope 3 are emissions an organisation doesn’t have full control over, such as ‘staff’ vehicle business mileage, material use and any outsourced activity (consultancy, paid services etc).
Deciding on the reporting scopes will determine what data you need to collect, once that’s decided, you’ll need to decide on a baseline reporting year, usually the preceding financial year or calendar year or the year you have the most complete data set for. Collect the data for that year and enter the figures in the accounting tool.