Consumers cut carbon with emissions in the North West down 8% on 2019


  • Analysis by Lloyds Banking Group and the Carbon Trust shows that carbon emissions in the North West are down 8% compared to the same time last year.

  • While carbon emissions remain lower year-on-year, analysis reveals that there was a 22% increase between Q2 and Q3 2020 as national lockdown restrictions were lifted.

  • With one year until COP26 over half of consumers in the North West (56%) want to continue their mini-green revolution to reduce their carbon footprint over the next year.

Carbon emissions rose as national lockdown measures loosened

New data analysis from Lloyds Banking Group reveals carbon emissions resulting from six key consumer spending categories are 8% lower at the end of October than they were the year before.

However, the analysis, which was compiled in partnership with the Carbon Trust, also found that emissions rose 22% in the North West between the second and third quarter of the year as spending increased on commuting and travel.

The analysis considered the impact on carbon emissions resulting from changing consumer behaviour across six spending categories: retail food and drink, fuel, commuting, airlines, electrical stores and clothing stores. The findings show again the close connection between how UK consumers choose to spend their money and the resulting impact on the environment, reflecting the broader way the pandemic is changing the way people live their lives.

Commuting and travel drive carbon emissions up

Fuel spend was a key factor behind the increase in carbon emissions as people began travelling again. Between Q2 and Q3, carbon emissions from fuel spend rose 58%, the equivalent of more than 160,000 tonnes. Furthermore, an increase in the amount spent on commuting resulted in carbon emissions increasing by 207%, almost 44,000 tonnes of CO2.

As some international borders reopened, carbon emissions from airlines also increased as Britons headed abroad for the summer. Emissions rose 111% from Q2 to Q3, the equivalent of an increase of 30,000 tonnes of CO2. Despite this increase, emissions from airlines are still down 56% on 2019 levels.

Emissions rose after national lockdown restrictions were released – but as we head through the last quarter of the year, we can expect further change in carbon emissions as different regional and national restrictions have a further impact in lowering emissions.

Mini-green revolution as consumers start the road to COP26

With one year to go until COP26, a global summit about climate change and what nations are planning to do to tackle it, found that in the last four months there has been a 13% increase in consumers in the North West wanting to reduce their carbon footprint over the next year (now at 46%, up from 33%).

While there has been an increase in airline emissions this quarter, nearly a third (27%) of people in the North West said they want to limit their air travel in the year ahead however, this is down from 29% in June. When considering future transport choices, over one in eight in the region (13%) are looking to make the switch to a hybrid or electric car in 2021, while 5% are looking to buy any other electrified mode of transport such as an electric scooter.

There is appetite amongst North West consumers for them to make smaller, everyday changes in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint. Of those interviewed 70% plan to recycle as much as possible, while over half (55%) plan to cut spending on single use plastic products in the next year.

Elyn Corfield, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for the North, said:

“Public support for tackling climate change has held up strongly despite the challenges and pressures caused by the pandemic in the North West.

“Our in-depth research shows the strong link between economic activity and carbon emissions across the region. We want to help play our role in helping the North West recover and rebuild the economy. But that doesn’t mean we should turn the clock back and return to the same old way of doing things.

“We need to build back better in a way which is both good for the economy and the environment. That’s why we are committed to working with customers, colleagues, businesses and communities to find ways of collectively making a difference and help the North West to build a brighter future as and when lockdown lifts.”

Myles McCarthy, Director at the Carbon Trust, said:

“Our analysis of Lloyds Banking Group customer spending demonstrates the link between the actions we take in our everyday lives and the impact these have on the level of carbon emissions, a major cause of climate change.

“These changes in 2020 spending have been driven by a global pandemic not by choice. However, with the evidence of growing consumer appetite to reduce their environmental impact and to consider more sustainable choices, some of these emission reductions could become more persistent.”