2021 Carbon Footprint


This report describes the greenhouse gas emissions produced by our (Devon County Council’s) activity (our ‘carbon footprint’) in the financial year from April 2020 to March 2021 (referred to as 2020/21). These emissions are compared to previous years’ data and our baseline year of April 2012 to March 2013 (referred to as 2012/13).

The Carbon Reduction Plan explains the activities we are implementing over the next 8 years to achieve a net-zero operation.


Our gross emissions are 53% below our baseline year of 2012/13 and we are ahead of target to achieve a 70% reduction by 2030.

Part A – Summary Table and Graphics

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol sets the global standard for how to measure, manage and report a carbon footprint. Within the standard, emissions are split into three scopes:

  • Scope 1 GHG emissions are ‘emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the organisation’. In our case this is the burning of fossil fuel (e.g. gas and diesel) in buildings and our vehicle fleet.
  • Scope 2 GHG emissions are defined as ‘emissions from the consumption of purchased energy’. In our case this is electricity.
  • Scope 3 GHG emissions are defined as ‘emissions that are a consequence of the operations of an organisation but are not directly owned or controlled by the organisation’. Scope 3 is an optional reporting category which can include several different sources of GHG emissions. In this report we have included GHG emissions associated with providing ‘home to school’ transport, travelling for our work purposes, water consumption in our corporate buildings, home working and the GHGs emitted during the process of extracting, refining and delivering fossil fuels and electricity to our business locations – these are termed ‘Well to Tank’ emissions.

Table 1 shows our gross 2020/21 emissions in comparison to previous years and the baseline year of 2012/13. The data is displayed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is a measure of the effect of a basket of greenhouse gas emissions (such as methane and nitrous oxide) on the atmosphere, not just carbon dioxide. All the years are directly comparable as we have recalculated the data to remove the effect of significant changes to the organisation, such as a year where we may have closed a significant number of buildings. The 2020/21 gross emissions are 53% below 2012/13 levels.

Table 1: Devon County Council’s greenhouse gas emissions data for 2012/13, 2016/17 and 2020/21 displayed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).


Base Year





% Change

Base Year

Scope 1 4,667 3,456 2,207 -53% 🟢
Scope 2 18,701 14,173 4,967 -73% 🟢
Scope 3 18,367 12,994 12,580 -32% 🟢
Gross Emissions 41,735 30,623 19,756 -53% 🟢
Gross Emissions per £m of Gross Expenditure at 2020 prices 26 23 15 -44% 🟢
Emissions (excluding school transport and street lighting) per Full Time Equivalent staff 3.1 2.7 1.3 -56% 🟢

Figure 1 shows the gross corporate greenhouse gas emissions for each year on a bar chart. Included in Figure 1 is an orange line showing the level below which our emissions need to be to reach our target of reducing gross corporate emissions by 70% by 2030 from 2012/13 levels. The remaining 30% will be offset through certified carbon offsetting mechanisms in the United Kingdom to achieve ‘net-zero emissions’.

Figure 1 Devon County Council's gross corporate greenhouse gas emissions. Bar chart showing gradual reduction from 2012 to 2021 from approx 42,000 tCO2e to approx 20,000 tCO2e.
Figure 1 Devon County Council’s gross corporate greenhouse gas emissions.
Figure 2: 2020/21 Gross Greenhouse Emissions by Source.  Pie chart with school transport 49%; Business Travel 5%; Vehicle fleet 5%; street lighting 23%; corporate estate 13%; home working 5%.
Figure 2: 2020/21 Gross Greenhouse Emissions by Source

Part B – Supporting Explanations

Company Information

Devon County Council is the upper tier local authority in Devon, excluding the unitary areas of Torbay and Plymouth.

Quantification and Reporting Methodology

We have followed the Defra Guidance on ‘Environmental Reporting Guidelines: including mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting’ dated October 2013. The scope of the carbon footprint is based on our activities that can either be measured from consumption data or reasonably estimated from finance data. We have used the 2020 emissions factors from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for this assessment. The estimation of upstream supply chain emissions covered under ‘Exclusions’ below have used the latest emissions factors available from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs dated 2009. No assessment is made for downstream end-of-life disposal emissions.

Organisational Boundary

DCC has used the financial control approach to identify operations from which to collect data. Therefore, schools and leased properties are excluded.

Operational Scopes

DCC has measured its scope 1, 2 and available scope 3 emissions. These are shown in Table 2 along with the change in the previous 12 months.

Table 2: Devon County Council’s scope 1, 2 and 3 gross greenhouse gas emissions in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
2019/20 GHG (tCO2e) 2020/21 GHG (tCO2e) % Change in last year % of relevant scope in 2020/21
Scope 1
Gas 1,368 1,327 -3% 🟢 60%
Oil 24 25 +3% 🟠 1%
LPG 9 10 +8% 🟠 0%
Fleet 1,198 846 -29% 🟢 38%
Fugitive Emissions from refrigerants not assessed but thought to be low.
Total Scope 1 2,598 2,207 -15%
Scope 2
Purchased electricity – street lighting 5,010 4,111 -18% 🟢 83%
Purchased electricity – corporate 1,239 855 -31% 🟢 17%
Total Scope 2 6,250 4,967 -15%
Available Scope 3
School transport 7,471 7,738 +4% 🟠 62%
Business travel 1,991 873 -56% 🟢 7%
Water 41 41 0% 🟠 0%
Home working 1,021 8%
Well to Tank 3,288 2,907 -12% 🟢 23%
Total Scope 3 12,791 12,562 -2%


Scope 1

  • Emissions and sequestration of greenhouse gases of land assets.

Scope 3

  • Emissions from the fossil fuel and electricity used to operate school buildings. These are not formally reported as we do not have financial control over these assets, but the emissions are monitored. In 2020/21 the emissions were 7,000 tonnes.
  • Employee commuting due to difficulties in collecting relevant and timely data.
  • Leased assets are excluded as the tenant has responsibility for paying the energy bills.
  • Supply chain emissions. Indicative carbon emissions from our supply chain for 2020/21, estimated using carbon intensity factors for different types of public sector activity, are 387 ktCO2 This is an increase on the figure reported in previous years, which was 346ktCO2e. This increase is because we are improving the data quality of our supply chain emissions by getting actual emissions data from our larger suppliers. In previous years the supply chain emissions were calculated solely using government-provided emissions factors applied to our financial spend, which so far appear to be an underestimate. This figure demonstrates that our impact on climate change is far more significant than just the calculated emissions reported through our corporate carbon footprint. From 2030 our supply chain is expected to be net-zero.

Reasons for Changes in Emissions

Our gross GHG emissions are 53% below the 2012/13 base year. Reasons for this are:

  • Improvement in the carbon intensity of grid electricity
  • Replacement of older boilers with condensing models through the maintenance programme
  • Installation of LED lighting in corporate property through the maintenance programme
  • Installation of part-night and LED street lighting
  • Installation of heat pumps in corporate buildings
  • Installation of solar arrays on corporate buildings
  • Gradual improvement in the carbon intensity of staff vehicles
  • Technology enabling less travel, such as Windows 10 and Microsoft Teams, greatly accelerated by the COVID pandemic.

Base Year

We will recalculate the base year emissions whenever:

  • Property disposals and terminated services represent 5% or more of base year emissions
  • New properties, services or previously excluded emissions make the base year incomparable
  • There is a significant change in reporting accuracy that makes the base year incomparable.

We recalculated Base Year emissions and subsequent years’ emissions in 2017/18 to reflect the significant outsourcing of services and staff reductions that had occurred. The components that were recalculated were emissions from corporate property and business travel. Disposed buildings were removed from previous years’ data. Business travel emissions were recalculated by multiplying the ‘business travel emissions per employee’ arising in each previous year by the number of employees in the organisation in 2017/18.

2012/13 has been retained as the base year, which remains relevant in the context of our new Carbon Reduction Plan.


Our Carbon Reduction Plan has set targets to reduce the corporate carbon emissions by 70% over the 2012/13 baseline by 2030 and offset the remaining 30% to achieve ‘net-zero emissions’.

Intensity Measurement

We have chosen to use Gross Operating Expenditure as the intensity measurement. This provides an indication of the extent of activity we deliver and is applicable to all components of the carbon footprint. Our gross emissions per million-pound spend, adjusted for inflation, has reduced by 44% since 2012/13.

External Assurance Statement

Our GHG emissions data is not covered by an External Assurance Statement.

Green Energy Tariffs

We have not purchased a green energy tariff.

Woodland Carbon Units

We have not retired any Woodland Carbon Units.

We have started building our experience in carbon offsetting by attempting to purchase Woodland Carbon Units to equal 5% of our 2019/20 gross emissions and 10% of the gross emissions in 2020/21. An open-market procurement exercise in February 2021 to address our 2019/20 gross emissions failed due to sellers wanting to keep hold of the Woodland Carbon Units due to speculation about forthcoming rapid price rises. Instead we purchased Pending Issuance Units, issued under the Woodland Carbon Code, that will mature into Woodland Carbon Units later in the 2020s. This means we cannot use these to reduce the 2019/20 emissions. We anticipate purchasing a similar product to offset 10% of our 2020/21 emissions. Both purchases will be used to net-off future years’ carbon emissions.

Renewable Electricity Generation

Our solar PV arrays on non-school properties have generated 198MWh of renewable electricity in 2020/21 saving 50 tCO2e. We have not generated renewable heat in our non-school properties.

Renewable Heat Generation

We have not generated renewable heat in our non-school properties.