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Cumbria County Council agrees ambitious Carbon Management Strategy

In November 2020, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet unanimously agreed the council’s first Carbon Management Strategy which sets out how they will respond to the international, national and regional aspiration to achieve a low/net zero carbon economy by 2050.

The Carbon Management Strategy sets out a baseline and introduces a framework to tackle carbon emitted from the council’s use of these assets.


It also introduces the concept of an energy hierarchy, a clear strategy for reducing demand, increasing energy efficiency, introducing new renewable technology within our buildings, and finally outlining exciting opportunities for off-setting that will represent the council’s investment in solar and wind generation of an appropriate scale to deliver a low/net zero carbon footprint.

The challenge

Local authorities consume over 26 billion kWh1 of energy per year, resulting in annual CO2e emissions of more than 6.9 MtCO2e. Energy use is a major expenditure for local authorities at a total cost of around £750 million. Local authorities are therefore well placed to play a significant part in achieving the national goal of developing a low/zero-carbon economy, with the added benefit of making significant savings on expenditure and achieving long term security.

The solution

Meeting Cumbria County Council’s hurdle rate (the minimum internal rate or return that is required for a network to be deemed financially viable based on Cumbria County Council’s borrowing costs), the prioritised strategy involves:

  • installing LEDs
  • making housekeeping improvements across all buildings
  • upgrading fabric
  • and installing heat pumps in all offices and care homes. 

To further offset CO2e emissions, a 1.5 MW solar PV farm and 2.5 MW wind turbine are required. 

Over 25 years, the strategy is projected to reduce CO2e emissions by 2,338 tCO₂e or 60 per cent of total  business as usual emissions. The 25 year return on the capital investment of £10.5million will exceed the 8 per cent  internal rate of return hurdle rate and will payback within 14 years.

The impact

The CO2e reduction strategy will deliver against a number of key Cumbria County Council corporate priorities. It contributes to the Cumbria Local Energy Plan and Cumbria’s Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) in driving sustainable economic growth, helping to capitalise on existing energy credentials and further developing Cumbria’s green energy infrastructure. Of the six priorities identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership (ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment, places and green growth), it potentially contributes to all.

How is the new approach being sustained?

The Carbon Management Strategy plots a route to Zero CO2e - it shows how over a 10-year period Cumbria County Council can reduce its emissions from buildings to zero.

Lessons learned

Reaching net zero emissions is possible, and local authorities must demonstrate this to their local residents and businesses. 

The CO2e reduction strategy can contribute to the objectives of the Cumbria Council Plan 2018-2022 in:

  • providing sustainable growth in the local economy
  • saving money through reduced energy usage and cheaper energy supply
  • incentives and grants
  • improving energy security
  • providing investment in the local economy
  • improving air quality by cutting CO2e and NOx emissions
  • and leading in delivering good practice and providing reputational benefits.


Hannah Girvan at [email protected]

Links to relevant documents

Cumbria County Council: Carbon Management Strategy (Corporate Estate) 2020-2025