Local Authority Consumption Accounts

About LACA

LACA is the Local Authority Consumption Account tool which provides time-series estimates of the Carbon Footprint for localities in the UK from 2001 onwards. It is hoped that Local Authorities will use this data to report their consumption-based emissions and develop Net Zero climate policies around the findings.

LACA is the result of a PCAN funded project to build an interactive webpage to share local area consumption-based emissions accounts. The footprint datasets are calculated by Dr Anne Owen at the University of Leeds and this work was funded by Defra, London Councils and ReLondon.

What is a carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint is a quantitative measure of the emissions associated with a person or place based on their actions. The carbon footprint includes emissions in the supply chain of goods and services consumed regardless of where in the world the supply chain sits.

To calculate the carbon footprint for the UK we take emissions from UK industry, businesses, homes and transport, remove emissions which make goods for export and add emissions from imported goods bought by UK consumers.

The carbon footprint is a consumption-based emissions account.

Why should Local Authorities report their consumption emissions?

More than 300 UK Local Authorities have declared a climate emergency and are taking action to report and reduce emissions. Simply measuring the emissions associated with the buildings and transportation within the border of the local authority neglects the fact that the actions of residents have impact outside of their local area. We operate in a Global economy and any measure of progress to a green economy needs to consider impacts felt Globally as well as Locally.

In addition, many Net Zero climate policies will be effective in cutting impacts felt in the rest of the UK and abroad as well as those generated locally – the footprint measure takes this into account. Demand side strategies, such as the sharing economy and low meat diets can only be determined when we measure emissions from a consumption perspective.

When Local Authorities measure their consumption-based emissions they report a complete account of activity and the carbon and cost-effective mitigation options associated with consumption-based accounts are revealed.

What is included in the carbon footprint of a Local Authority?

The consumption-based approach assigns emissions associated with final consumption to the geography where the final consumers of the product live.

It is important to understand that the emissions profiles are not a measure of the emissions associated with businesses in the borough or traffic flows – these are covered by territorial GHG inventories such as the London Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory (LEGGI). The emissions profiles in data repository are solely emissions associated with consumption of goods and services by residents; those direct emissions from residents' fuel burning from private cars and homes; and a population weighted share of Government and Capital Investment. There is some cross over with the territorial inventory (Figure 1). Emissions from local businesses are reflected in the consumption total if the goods sold are purchased by the local area's residents. Traffic emissions are included in the consumption account if the driver is a local resident or the emissions are from the transportation of goods or services that are consumed by local residents.

Figure 1: Venn diagram showing relationship between local territorial and consumption-based accounts

The methodology document gives more detail as to how the datasets were calculated.

Check the FAQs if you have further questions.