ARGYLL and Bute Council reduced its carbon emissions by one third between 2015 and 2021, a report has revealed.

The local authority is working towards net zero by 2045, and the 2020/21 financial year was the fourth in a row when its carbon footprint has dropped.

As of that financial year, it stood at the equivalent of 26,619 tonnes of carbon dioxide, a reduction from 28,643 from the previous financial year.

The report will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee, the first core committee meeting since summer recess, on Thursday, August 11.

Executive director Douglas Hendry said: “Scotland has some of the most ambitious targets and progressive legislation in terms of climate change in the world and the public sector is being promoted as playing a leading role towards achieving net zero by 2045.

“As with other public bodies it has been a requirement for Argyll and Bute Council to monitor, record and publish contributing factors towards climate change for the past six years.

“The most recent results from the national ‘Reporting Requirements’ have recently been published in April 2022 and cover the previous financial year for 2020/21.

“Around 160 public bodies (councils, health boards, government) published data in the past year and across Scotland there was a general downward trend in carbon emissions across the board.

“Some of it will be attributable to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, where certain sectors like travel and construction were less active for part of the year, but other factors include the general de-carbonisation of the national grid as we transition away from fossil fuels for generation of electricity.

“Argyll and Bute Council saw our carbon emissions generated by our business activities drop for the fourth year in a row.

“Our carbon footprint has reduced from 28,643 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2019/20 to 26,619 tCO2e in 2020/21. This means around a 33 per cent reduction in emissions since recording commenced in 2015/16.

“There are a number of factors that have contributed to this reduction, such as direct interventions to make buildings more energy and heat efficient, replacing traditional lightbulbs with LED, moving to electric or hybrid vehicles and treating municipal waste in different ways.

“The overall national grid becoming more reliant upon renewable energy sources (over fossil fuel) has also had a material impact. This reduction over this period is in line with the national average.”

The council adopted its second decarbonisation plan in December, and also has interim targets of reaching a 75 per cent reduction by 2030.

Mr Hendry added: “It is recognised that whilst there may be some rapid progression to reduce emissions in early years some of the more stubborn and difficult sectors like waste, travel or heating will require whole systems changes and change in cultural behaviour to achieve them.”