Scotland’s households cut carbon emissions by almost 10 percent last year, according to accenture

Peter Lacy, Accenture’s Global Sustainability Services Lead and Chief Responsibility Officer

CO2 per household in Scotland among UK’s lowest as reduced spending on eating out, transport and clothing drives fall in emissions

HOUSEHOLDS in Scotland cut their carbon emissions by almost 10% in 2020 as people spent less during the pandemic, according to new research by Accenture.

The average weekly amount of COproduced by Scottish households’ consumption of goods and services fell to 186kg of CO2 in 2020, compared with 205kg in 2019. Scotland’s reduction mirrored trends UK-wide that saw household emissions fall by ten percent to 295 million tonnes CO2 in 2020, compared with 328 million tonnes CO2 in 2019. The 33 million tonne fall is equivalent to over a tonne per household and is the same amount of carbon produced by seven million cars on average each year.

Accenture’s UK Carbon Consumption Index – the first of its kind to look at how the country’s consumption habits play a role in changing carbon emissions – shows that the fall in carbon emissions in 2020 was driven primarily by reduced spending on transport, hospitality and clothing.

Household energy consumption increased as people spent more time at home, but more renewables in the generation mix meant that electricity-related emissions fell. Gas and electricity consumption continued to represent the largest source of household emissions across the UK, with a share of 43%.

Peter Lacy, Accenture’s Global Sustainability Services Lead and Chief Responsibility Officer, said, “While the pandemic forced much of this consumption change, it has shown how big an impact individual households can make in cutting carbon emissions. But it’s not all down to consumers. Businesses have a significant role to play too, by accelerating innovation – findings ways to design, make and supply net-zero products and services and educating consumers about ‘greener’ options on the shelf.

As we approach COP26, the mounting pressure on businesses to embed sustainability across their operations and lower the carbon intensity of goods and services isn’t going away. It’s only by working together – across business, society and government – that we’ll reach our net-zero targets.”

The biggest fall in carbon emissions was caused by a reduced amount of spending on transport as people stayed at home, cutting the average household’s weekly emissions in that category by 23 percent to 39kg.

The second biggest cause was a fall in spending specifically on restaurants and hotels, with emissions from this category slashed by 53 percent, to 7kg of carbon per week. With nowhere to go but the living room for many, spending on clothes also fell by 12 percent, which led to a further fall in emissions.

Scotland’s household emissions below UK average

Scotland’s 2020 figure of 186kg per household per week was almost 9 per cent lower than the UK weekly average (204kg) and 19 per cent lower than the South East of England (230kg), where CO2 production per household is highest in the UK. Northern Ireland had the lowest weekly CO2 emissions across the UK, at just 159kg.

Age too had an impact in every region. On average across the UK households with people aged 75 or above generated 107kg per week per household member, making them the age group with the most carbon-intensive spending habits. However, this is because older people spend a significant amount of money on gas heating and electricity. If this is excluded, the age group whose consumption results in the greatest amount of carbon emissions is instead those aged 50 to 64, who generate 52kg per week per household member.

Michelle Hawkins, Managing Director, Accenture Scotland, added, “This research is a useful reminder that, as consumers in Scotland, we are increasingly aware of the impact our purchasing decisions have on the environment around us. For businesses in Scotland, this means that the commitments we make to sustainability will be amongst the most important drivers for growth and competitiveness moving forward. Organisations that don’t deliver on their sustainability promises risk losing consumer trust and loyalty in the years ahead.”

Most Carbon-Intensive Products Inside the Home

The research also found that as consumers swapped their spending on nights out and new clothes for evenings in and home improvements, the top five most carbon-intensive products in 2020, across food, recreation, household goods and clothing,were (CO2 emissions per household per year):

·         Prepared meats, such as sausages – 223kg (up 11 percent in 2020 year-on-year (YOY)

·         Furniture & furnishings – 185kg (down 3 percent in 2020 YOY)

·         Glassware, tableware & household utensils – 108kg (up 16 percent in 2020 YOY)

·         Pet food – 104kg (down 5 percent in 2020 YOY)

·         TVs and computers – 85.8kg (down 8 percent in 2020 YOY)

The decreases seen in the furniture and pet food categories were caused by a reduction in the carbon-intensity of the supply chain.

Lauren Ing, Managing Director, Sustainability, Accenture UK and Ireland, concluded, “Despite households spending more on heating and electricity during the national lockdowns, spending less in other areas like clothing and travel has contributed to an overall drop in carbon emissions. It is also encouraging to see that lower carbon supply chains had a positive impact in some product areas, such as pet food, which grew in demand as people bought more pets, but the carbon emissions were reduced because of greener supply chains.”

Our brands
Sign up to our newsletter

Subscribe to receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox.

© 2021 High Growth Scotland. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox.