Nottingham City Council: Carbon Neutral Agenda

Nottingham City Council has set an ambitious target to become the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028. In keeping with Nottingham’s proud tradition of climate leadership, the carbon neutral charter sets out a vision for sustainable carbon neutrality on behalf of the Council and the city’s Green Partnership.

The challenge

Nottingham City Council has responded to the climate and environmental crisis by making one of its key Council policies in its Council Plan 2019-2023 to become the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028. We published our Carbon Neutral Charter in 2019 followed by our action plan to deliver this in 2020. The actions we have taken have made a real difference to people’s homes, businesses, transport and to the way the Council operates. We’ve met our 2020 energy strategy emissions target early of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 26% from 2005 levels. The most recent figures from 2019 show a reduction of 44% for the city and 53% per person.

However, the city was still emitting 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019, enough to drive the average car 6 billion miles! Now, Nottingham must go further to reduce emissions and lower its carbon footprint to play its part in preventing a dangerously warmer world.

The solution

This Carbon Neutral Plan builds on the Carbon Neutral Charter by setting out high-level objectives and activities in order to achieve a resilient and carbon neutral Nottingham by 2028.

These are broken down into four main sections:

  • Carbon Reduction Measures
  • Carbon Removal
  • Resilience and Adaption
  • Ecology and Biodiversity

We believe the approach we are taking will bring multiple benefits to the citizens, businesses and organisations of Nottingham. Our Carbon Neutral Charter sets out the principles, priorities and definitions of this approach, building on our previous successes and state-of-the-art knowledge.

The impact

The Carbon Neutral Charter recognised that tackling climate change needs to be done in a way that is fair and sustainable – improving and protecting our environment, economy and society. This sits at the heart of the city’s approach. Nottingham City Council will play a leading role in enabling, empowering and coordinating the city to tackle to the challenge, but it cannot achieve this alone.

The action plan is not intended to plot a fixed and definitive course to carbon neutrality. There will be further developments which cannot be accurately predicted. It is essential that there is continuing involvement in the development and implementation of actions from citizens, businesses, and other organisations in the city and further afield.

How is the new approach being sustained?

Nottingham’s approach to sustainable carbon neutrality will integrate carbon reduction with sustainability and an ambition to identify and realise multiple co-benefits. Co-benefits are deliberate or incidental positive outcomes across a range of other areas in addition to the central aim of an intervention. An example of a co-benefit is moving towards more active travel to tackle air-quality also has benefits for health from exercise and mental wellbeing.

To ensure the plan is robustly managed, governed and embedded in the Council and the city, a dedicated implementation group has been formed from senior managers across the Council who lead each theme/section of the plan supported a group of advisors from areas such a public health, finance and economic development. This group works collectively to deliver the actions and reports to an overall Board chaired by the Council’s Deputy Leader and portfolio holder with specific responsibility for the environment and climate change.

As the ambition is for the whole city to play its part, the action plan is managed on a wider basis through the Nottingham Green Partnership. This diverse group includes small and large local businesses e.g. Boots, other public sector organisations such our NHS trust (the fifth largest in the UK), both Universities (Nottingham and Nottingham Trent) and a host of green and sustainability related partners such as Sustrans.

Lessons learned

If the City Council direct activities were carbon neutral now, it would account for only a 4% reduction in the city’s current CO2 emissions. Therefore, Carbon Neutral Nottingham 2028 can only hope to succeed if it is something the whole city can embrace, engage and be involved in. The contributions from residents, community, the business sector and all organisations of the city is critical. The City Council can facilitate, lead and set a good example but in terms of reducing the carbon emissions it is for the entire city to play its part. Therefore, partnership working, engagement, behaviour and cultural change are at the core of the agenda.

We are already seeing high levels of enthusiasm and support across the city and it’s not a case of being asked why we are doing this, but what can we do. This combined with the changes and advances in infrastructure, technology etc that are needed to allow many of these changes to happen gives us some optimism that we just might do this. Nottingham is known as the city of rebels and this will continue to drive us to do things differently and we will draw on this spirit in the years to come.


Chris Common, Carbon Neutral Policy Manager