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Tunbridge Wells Borough Council wanted to understand what would be required to meet their ambition of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Read our Case Study on how we worked together to achieve this.

In July 2019, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) declared it’s recognition of the global climate emergency, and committed to act, with the goal of making the Council’s operations carbon neutral by 2030.

As a first step on this roadmap, TWBC sought external support to help them ascertain their current position and understand what would be required to meet their ambition of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. TWBC needed experts to calculate a carbon footprint for the council, working with them to collect and process data from a wide range of sources, identify suitable emissions reduction pathways, taking into consideration science-based targets, and develop an action plan.

After reviewing options, TWBC appointed LASER in early 2020 and LASER began to work closely with TWBC to deliver a project that ran smoothly and provided the council with an innovative and valuable output whilst giving the assurance that necessary protocols and processes were being considered.

Footprint and Forecast

After an initial kick-off meeting to introduce all parties and give an overview of the project, the first stage of the process was to undertake a scoping exercise. TWBC had provided a good scope, however, certain aspects had not been considered and adjustments were made to the scope to ensure the GHG Protocol guidelines were followed.

As part of the scoping workshop, relevant emissions sources and the best quality data sources available were identified and LASER and TWBC worked in partnership to collate a wide array of data from a variety of sources. TWBC’s project team and personnel from a number of departments were extremely helpful and forthcoming which enhanced both the quality of the data and the effectiveness of the exercise.

Once all data had been gathered and assessed, LASER calculated a carbon footprint for the council, breaking the data down in a number of different ways to give insight into emissions at operational, estate and building level. A Business As Usual forecast was created to demonstrate how emissions may change if TWBC took no action and consumption of energy remained static into the future.

Science-Based Carbon Budget and Pathway

TWBC were keen to ensure that they knew how to align their efforts with both national and international targets. LASER calculated what their “fair contribution” to these efforts would be based on their current emissions levels. This was displayed in terms of both 5-year carbon budgets and as a roadmap to 2030 and beyond.

Options Appraisal

Now that a strong understanding of current emissions and targets and a potential roadmap had been established, focus was brought on how these targets could be achieved. The first step towards this was for LASER to conduct Options Appraisal workshops, one with officers and one with Members. The aims of these were to ensure that LASER were aware of all recent, current and proposed projects that could have an impact on future emissions and understood the priorities, viewpoints and attitudes of key stakeholders. These workshops were used to gain a more in-depth appreciation of the council’s position to allow LASER to account for this in the modelling that was undertaken.

One key benefit of the Zero Carbon Roadmap is that it allows for the creation of a number of different scenarios and assesses the impacts in terms of both emissions and finance of differing sets of options. LASER worked with TWBC to ascertain which the most useful scenarios to model would be to ensure that the value of the outputs were maximised and could help inform strategy and decision making.

LASER then built sets of different carbon reduction options into our model alongside forecasts and assumptions of industry trends, to demonstrate how they impacted emissions and finance in the short, medium and long term.

Carbon Descent Plan

LASER’s Carbon Descent Plan is a substantive document that provides background, details the process, laying out the various stages and findings, before pulling all of these together in a conclusion that highlights the key points and recommends next steps to take. As well as overarching project costs, the report also assesses potential offsetting costs under each of the separate scenarios, providing comparison and analysis. Additionally, the plan explores various green energy procurement options that are currently available or likely to come onto the market in the near future.

“The work we have done with LASER has allowed us to evaluate our current position and fully grasp the scale of the task of reaching net zero. The forecasts of emissions in different scenarios were particularly useful in that they helped us understand the potential impact that varying options or sets of initiatives might have. in comparison with others, we felt that LASER’s work gave us a great level of detail and a strong platform from which to move forwards.”
Karin Gray,
Sustainability Manager for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Supply Chain (Purchase Ledger Analysis)

As an additional exercise, LASER carried out a high-level screening exercise to understand the scale of associated carbon emissions for upstream activities within TWBC’s supply chain.

Using Environmentally Extended Input-Output (EEIO) models and spend with suppliers, the report screened emissions and assessed significance and materiality of emissions attributable to TWBC’s procurement through their top 15 suppliers by spend. It also put it into the context of the council’s own emissions to help them to understand their wider environmental impact.

The Outcome

The reports and findings were presented to TWBC personnel who were extremely pleased with the information that it provided them with, and the level of detail contained within the reports and the work in general.

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