Exeter has ranked #1 on a list of top 5 towns/cities with the lowest carbon footprint as part of the largest ever analysis of consumers’ carbon footprints.

More than 300,000 responses to the WWF carbon footprint calculator shows an average 17% reduction in individual carbon footprint. Data from the WWF  carbon calculator was analysed using a model developed by Stockholm Environment Institute and the University of Leeds.

WWF’s Carbon Calculator respondents answered 24 questions that cover a range of lifestyle and consumption habits under four topics: ‘food’‘travel’‘home’ and ‘stuff’. The carbon footprint associated with the respondent’s lifestyle and consumption activities is calculated using an underlying model developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute and the University of Leeds.

Individual consumption and lifestyle habits have been recorded for 326,579 UK-based respondents for 15 months during the period February 2019 and October 2020. Due to the vast quantity of respondents, WWF’s footprint calculator provides the largest known dataset of this type.

The 5 towns/cities with the lowest carbon footprints of populations of more than 250,000, their top ‘green’ credentials, as well as any ways they could improve even further:


  1. Exeter (11.6 CO2e): had more than 25% of respondents say they source food locally and 12% have solar panels (compared to a UK average of 7%). To further improve, more householders could switch to a 100% renewable energy tariff – 45% of respondents did not know which energy tariff they were on.
  2. Plymouth (11.8 CO2e) had the lowest average amount of short haul European flights with 36% taking these and 80% of respondents waste less than 10% of food. To further improve, more people could adopt a largely plant-based diet as only 16% of residents are currently vegetarian or vegan.
  3. Bristol (11.8 CO2e) had the highest number of respondents in the UK on a 100% renewable energy tariff (29%) and 82% of respondents recycled their food waste. To further improve, Bristolians could look at how they insulate their homes as only 61% of respondents had loft insulation (compared to a national average of 68%) and 38% wall insulation (compared to a UK average of 47%).
  4. Sheffield (11.9 CO2e) had a quarter of respondents on a 100% renewable energy tariff and nearly a quarter (24%) on a meat-free diet (compared to a UK average of 18%). To further improve, Sheffield residents could walk, cycle or use more public transport as 58% of respondents use their car as their main method of transport (compared to a UK average of 37%)
  5. Newcastle (11.9 CO2e) had 45% of respondents who use public transport, walk or cycle as their main mode of transport and almost a fifth (19%) are on a 100% renewable energy tariff. To further improve more residents could recycle food (as only 32% currently do this) either via kerbside collections where these are available or by home composting for those who have gardens.


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