The authority’s total carbon output fell by just three per cent in the 2020/21 financial year, against a target of 10 per cent.
In line with the climate strategy and action plan agreed by councillors in December 2020, the council needs to cut emissions by a tenth every year in order to achieve its goal of net zero by 2030.
But a report to councillors says that while significant reductions were made in direct emissions from heating, power and the council’s vehicle fleet, progress was hindered by an increase in ‘indirect emissions’.
This includes social housing, health and social care, maintained schools, and emissions generated by staff working from home.
However, the report, by director of place Mark Barrow, highlights the fact that the council’s net carbon footprint is already at net zero as a result of land management and waste recycling.
Mr Barrow says the council’s direct emissions dropped from nearly 5,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) to just shy of 1,900 in the space of a year, “due primarily to the adoption of a 100 per cent renewable power supply” and “the effect of the pandemic on service delivery”.
Indirect emissions went up from 30,300 tCO2e to 32,200 tCO2e.
This figure has been revised down from earlier estimates of around 50,000 tCO2e based on more accurate data which is now available.
Meanwhile ,Mr Barrow says the council was able to offset 37,000 tCO2e, taking its net total emissions to -4,300 tCO2e.
The report says: “The significant reduction in direct emissions is welcome, but the slight increase in indirect emissions has limited the overall reduction in gross emissions to only three per cent against a target of 10 per cent.
“Whilst this is disappointing, it reflects the impact of increased spending on commissioned services across several service areas where carbon emissions are still being estimated using spend, rather than actual measurement.
“It is worth noting that Shropshire Council is currently one of only a few councils to report the full extent of its carbon emissions, including indirect emissions.
“Whilst the carbon savings generated from recycling and land management activities means that the council’s footprint is technically already net zero, it is important that the council continues to focus on reducing its gross emissions.”
The report will be presented at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.