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Devon’s Carbon Footprint

Each year the University of Exeter’s Centre for Energy and Environment calculates Devon’s carbon footprint. This measures the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere by activities within Devon, Plymouth and Torbay’s boundaries. The calculation relies on national datasets that are published after the emissions have occurred. The latest available carbon footprint is for 2021.

7.67 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

2021 Carbon Footprint

Which gases are included?

Which activities are included?

How are emissions categorised?

What method has been followed?

Area Emissions

In 2021, Devon’s emissions were 7.67 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Emissions have bounced back 6 % in 2021 compared to 2020 when emissions reductions were heavily shaped by COVID restrictions. Although, 2021 itself did experience a long-duration, partial lockdown from December 2020 through to May 2021. However, emissions remain below 2019 levels (7.98Mt).

Emissions have reduced 21% since 2010. The Devon Carbon Plan has set a target for a 50% reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels and net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

Graph of Devon's Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Year adn Sector

Data as a Table

Devon’s Carbon Budget

The carbon budgets described in the Devon Carbon Plan, calculated from 2016 emissions data, have been revised upwards to reflect the slightly-higher baseline position resulting from the updated emissions methodology. The current budget period covers 2018 – 2022. In comparison to these newly calculated budgets the area has used 88% of the budget. With one year remaining this means the 2022 emissions are likely to exceed the budget cap by about 9%. This exceedance will be carried forward into the next budget period, this is likely to make it harder it to meet the five-year carbon budgets, highlighting the need for urgent action on emissions.

Emissions by Local Authority (2021)



Local AuthorityEmissions (t CO2e)% of Devon’s Emissions
East Devon1,013,97613%
Exeter491,9606%
Mid Devon879,17811%
North Devon759,82210%
South Hams790,66810%
Teignbridge849,06711%
Torridge706,8209%
West Devon639,0268%
Plymouth1,074,38314%
Torbay466,4946%
Devon County Council Area6,130,51880%
Total Devon Emissions7,671,395

Emissions by Sector (2021)

SectorEmissions (t CO2e)% of Devon’s Emissions
Buildings2,858,53737
Transport2,209,54829
Food, Land and Sea1,860,87924
Waste566,1867
Industrial Processes and Product Use176,2462
Total Emissions7,671,395

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Detailed Carbon Footprint 2021

Consumption Emissions

International trade means that many of the emissions associated with Devon’s citizens’ day-to-day lives are not emitted within Devon itself but instead occur overseas. For example, purchasing a mobile phone causes 55 kilograms of CO2e emissions from the minerals extraction, manufacturing, distribution and sale in the UK – but only the emissions associated with the distribution and resale in Devon appear in the carbon footprint described above. These overseas emissions are referred to as ‘consumption emissions’ and they are an additional part of the Scope 3 category.

Monitoring consumption emissions from overseas that are attributable to Devon can currently only be done by apportioning the UK national estimates of consumption emissions to Devon using a factor such as Gross Value Added – a measure of the performance of the economy. On this basis, the 2020 consumption emissions arising overseas that are attributable to our consumption habits in Devon were 3.5 million tonnes COe, which, when combined with the carbon footprint calculated above, accounts for 32% of Devon’s total GHG emissions.

Consumption emissions are included in the Devon Climate Emergency commitment to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

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