Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy

Last updated: 30 September 2021

8. Targets

The following aims and objectives of this strategy address climate change and poor air quality respectively. They are in line with the council motion that was passed on 15 July 2020 and pursuant to achieving national air quality objectives and standards across Buckinghamshire.

Climate Change

Aim 1: Work alongside national Government with the objective to achieve net zero carbon emissions for Buckinghamshire as a whole by 2050.

Objective A: Achieve net zero carbon emissions across council operations no later than 2050 and possibly before this, potentially by 2030, subject to resources.

Objective B: Support communities to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

First Carbon Budget

The UK monitors its progress toward its carbon reduction targets through 5 year carbon budget periods. We are adopting this approach and will monitor our carbon emission reductions against 5 year carbon budgets.

The current UK carbon budget runs from 2018 to 2022; the next from 2023 to 2027. We have chosen to use an initial 7 year carbon budget period to align ourselves with the next national carbon budget period. Subsequent carbon budgets will be 5 years. Our initial carbon budget will therefore cover the financial years 2020/21 (the first year of Buckinghamshire Council existing) to 2026/27.

Though the Carbon Budgets span multiple year, to support annual monitoring indicative annual allowances have been determined. These will allow us to see if emissions are declining at a suitable rate. The use of a multi-year budget approach allows for annual variations in the emissions reduction achieved. For example, a particularly cold winter would lead to more emission from gas heating systems are used than expected, but within a longer-term trend of emission reductions.

Table 5 below sets out these indicative allocations for the first carbon budget period.

First Carbon Budget Annual Emission Allocations (Table 5)
Year Indicative Carbon Budget Allocation (T CO2)
2020-21 7,895
2021-22 7,407
2022-23 6,953
2023-24 6,527
2024-25 6,129
2025-26 5,755
2026-27 5,403
Total 51,139

Air Quality

Becoming a unitary authority provides us with an opportunity to harmonise our approach to delivering actions in the action plans for each AQMA. The aims and objectives below reflect our ambition to establish concentrations of NO2 and other air pollutants at safe levels.

Air Quality

Aim 2: Improve air quality across Buckinghamshire pursuant to achieving national air quality objectives

Objective C: Reduce emissions to air from all council operations.

Objective D: Reduce human exposure to harmful levels of air pollution.

Governance and Management

This section sets out our overall approach to managing the strategy, refining our processes, and building funds so that we can continuously improve delivery against our targets and objectives.


  1. Continued engagement with central government on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions issues.
  2. Explore carbon offsetting fund and low carbon energy generation investment options.
  3. Establish and maintain interdepartmental working groups accountable for the delivery of actions.

Review and Update

We recognise that this strategy will guide activity for nearly 30 years. Within that period there may be considerable technology, product or service advancements, and political, legislative and other changes providing challenges against or opportunities to enhance emissions reductions. We will report annually on emissions and against each carbon budget, and the actions below take into account future scenarios.


4. Review and update the strategy so that it is fit for purpose for each carbon budget, or more frequently if necessary.

5. Determine the most practicable means of assessing the Council's Scope 3 emissions.

Monitoring and Reporting

Council Emissions

The council has established its new baseline GHG emissions via a carbon audit (PDF, 880 KB). We are setting a series of carbon budgets, aligned with the UK’s national approach to reducing emissions to net zero in stages.


6. Monitor and report quarterly on emissions savings across Council operations.

7. Improve data management and quality to better inform options for reducing emissions and performance monitoring.

County-wide Emissions

Emissions data from activity across Buckinghamshire is complex and varied in its collection and reporting methodology. 73.6% of respondents to the engagement survey consider the monitoring of air pollution to be very important in tackling climate change and poor air quality. We will improve our air pollution monitoring and report against the progress we make annually on reducing emissions to air.


8. Maintain and enhance effectiveness of outdoor air pollution monitoring.

9. Report annually on progress made against actions and reducing emissions.