The North East wants to cut the carbon – but it’s a struggle


  • Research by Lloyds Banking Group shows 72% of people in the region see the environment as a top priority for post pandemic recovery.
  • However, a fifth (19%) were unable to reduce their own carbon footprint in the third lockdown.

Carbon emissions in the North East dropped by 8% during the pandemic compared to the year before, according to analysis compiled by Lloyds Banking Group in partnership with the Carbon Trust.

The analysis considered the impact on carbon emissions resulting from changing consumer spending behaviour across six categories: food and drink, fuel, commuting, airlines, electrical stores and clothing stores.

Restrictions on international and domestic travel as well as the increase in working from home have been significant factors in the drop in carbon emissions. Emissions from commuting reduced by over a half (57%) and emissions from fuel fell by 18% compared to the year before the pandemic. At the same time, international travel restrictions meant that the carbon emissions from airlines dropped by almost three quarters (72%) compared to the previous year.

As the region prepares to emerge from lockdown, public support for the environment remains strong in the North East with 72% of the public ranking the environment as a top priority for post pandemic recovery.

However, it appears that ‘going green’ is a struggle as a fifth (19%) were not able to reduce their carbon footprint in the third lockdown, the research revealed.

How the pandemic has impacted behaviour change

Many Britons are planning to make greener choices once restrictions lift, with seven in 10 (72%) saying they will make a conscious effort to cut their carbon footprint after lockdown.

Environmental reasons are also a factor for people thinking about a return to work, with almost three in 10 (29%) full-time employees citing this as a reason in their plans to work from home at least two to three times a week.

Generational differences can be seen in these emerging environmental behaviour changes. Nearly half (49%) of over 55s are planning to continue shopping locally compared to just 27% of younger generations (18–24 year olds). Older generations are also more likely to limit their car use than younger generations (36% and 23% respectively) and make improvements to their home’s energy efficiency (16% and 7% respectively).

Thrifty under 25s are planning to buy more items second-hand or upcycle them than older generations (35% and 22% respectively) and are focused on changing their diets to reduce emissions (23% and 13% respectively).

Elyn Corfield, Group Ambassador for the North at Lloyds Banking Group said:  

“The environment will play a key role in the UK’s recovery from the pandemic so I’m pleased to see so many people from the North East prioritise the environment.

“We all have a role to play in helping to tackle climate change, and while it can seem overwhelming, we are here to support people, businesses and communities make the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Myles McCarthy, Director at the Carbon Trust, said:

“It is encouraging to see that the environment remains top of mind for two thirds of people in post pandemic recovery. Lockdown has disrupted our lives in many aspects, challenging people from turning aspirations into action, while encouraging more sustainable habits like homeworking and local shopping.

“As lockdown eases, and in the run-up to COP26, it is time for consumers, citizens, businesses and governments to come together and build the enabling environment that will help turn climate ambitions into long-term impact.”