HIE appointed independent consultants to review the opportunities and actions needed to support an island community to become carbon-neutral. Although this work focuses on island communities, its findings could also apply to other communities.
Benefits of being part of a carbon-neutral project include: carbon footprint reduction; becoming a model of good practice; population retention; attraction for the area, and the development of possible innovations in carbon reduction technologies. Part of this report includes a toolkit for quantifying the carbon footprint from both ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ emissions.
Through changes in behaviours and the use of new technologies, a community could effect reductions in direct emissions, which include electricity use, space heating, transport etc. Indirect emissions, such as food consumption and services such as aviation and ferries, are services over which a community has little control. These emissions would need to be offset for a community to become carbon-neutral by methods such as exporting renewable electricity to the national grid (assuming available grid capacity) or the planting of permanent forests.
Many of the options identified in this report are already commercially viable or will become potentially viable in the near future. However success in creating a carbon neutral island will only be achieved where there is a successful marriage of community and technology and a real desire to holistically implement change at both an individual and community level.
The full report can be downloaded here, above right.