Leeds graded 'A' for Climate Action by CDP: Graphical representation of the Leeds PIPES district heating network route along the Headrow. In reality, the pipes are installed underground.

Leeds City Council has been recognised as one of 119 cities across the globe taking bold leadership on environmental action and transparency—despite the pressures of a challenging global economic situation—in a new list published by renowned international authority the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

The city is among the likes of New York, Paris, Melbourne, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Cape Town on the organisation's annual A List for the second consecutive year. Of more than 900 global cities that received a rating in 2023, only 13% received an 'A' grade.

Leeds’ contribution to climate change (the district’s annual greenhouse gas emissions) have decreased by 38% since 2005, from 6.3 to 3.9 million tonnes of carbon. The council’s own carbon footprint has shrunk by nearly two-thirds (63%) over a similar period.

Reducing the city’s impact on the environment has long been identified as a key aim for Leeds City Council. In 2019, councillors from all parties in Leeds voted to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and accelerate action to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions—while also calling on national government to provide the resources and powers to make this possible.

Since 2016, the council has secured and committed funding to deliver more than £850 million of schemes with climate change reduction or adaptation as a key aim.

The local authority continues to update its most influential policy documents, from planning policy to the city’s transport and economic strategies, to ensure that they also support the city’s climate goals. The council’s Best City Ambition identified action to tackle climate change as a key strategic priority.


Helping households

Helping households to save energy and money by installing green home upgrades has been a significant focus of the council’s climate emergency response this year. Domestic properties are responsible for nearly a third of the city’s carbon footprint.

The council set out plans to invest £100 million improving the energy efficiency of its homes in 2021. The programme passed the half-way milestone earlier this year and more than £60 million of projects have now completed, benefiting thousands of residents with healthier, more comfortable homes that are cheaper to keep warm.

A new council campaign—launching in the coming weeks—will help homeowners and landlords in Leeds understand and check what support is available to install energy saving measures in their own properties from local or national schemes. The campaign will fulfil a commitment in the authority’s Net Zero Homes Plan and help ensure Leeds households benefit from a new, time-limited funded support scheme for properties that don’t use a gas boiler for central heating.

Meanwhile, the local authority is also currently consulting on proposed local planning policies that, if adopted, would require all new homes in Leeds to be built to efficient net zero standards from 2027 and be designed in a way that is better adapted to the city's future climate.


Supporting businesses

Businesses in Leeds are also being supported to seize the opportunities of the net zero transition, which could reduce costs and open new markets, as part of the council’s updated Inclusive Growth Strategy that launched earlier this year.

Since July, the council has been working closely with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to promote its new Business Sustainability Scheme, which provides support for small and medium-sized enterprises to measure and reduce their carbon footprint, save money, and become more climate resilient. Ninety-four small businesses based in Leeds have already benefited from the initiative.

This year also saw private sector building managers and developers benefit from affordable, reliable, and low carbon heat provided by the fast-growing Leeds PIPES heating network for the first time. The council estimates that the network will help existing customers to collectively save nearly half a million pounds (£490,000) in reduced energy costs this year alone. It is in advanced discussions with more than twenty potential private and public sector customers also interested in the scheme.


Improving transport

Work continues to improve transport so that more people in Leeds have a real alternative to car use, as part of the Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy—helping to reduce the third of Leeds emissions linked to vehicle use.

A detailed report summarising progress to deliver the strategy in 2023 will be discussed by senior councillors next week. It highlights developments including the successful launch of Leeds City Bikes; the largest all-electric docked bike hire scheme anywhere in the UK.

Meanwhile, proposed local planning policies under consultation would encourage more development in places that are better connected by public transport and are nearby local amenities to help reduce car-dependency and encourage thriving communities.


Reducing future impacts

Scientists predict that extreme and prolonged heatwaves, winter flooding, and summer drought will become increasingly likely in Leeds until global net zero is achieved.

As well as taking significant action to end the city’s contribution to global warming, the council is also taking steps to help reduce the future impacts of extreme weather made more likely by the changing climate.

The council continues to invest in a wide range of flood alleviation schemes with more than £200m of measures on track to be installed by 2027. Defences installed in the last few years have already protected the city from flooding during recent storms, saving many homes and businesses from damage.

After experiencing the pressures and effects of record-breaking temperatures in Leeds in 2022, the local authority developed new guidance this year, in collaboration with union representatives, to improve the resilience of council services during future heatwaves whilst also protecting workers and service users.

Proposed local planning policies would also set a stronger framework for protecting and enhancing green spaces, supporting nature, increasing tree canopy cover, and expanding the city’s strategic green and blue corridors—helping to shade and cool the city whilst restoring natural habitats for wildlife.


Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council's executive member for climate, energy, environment and green space, said:

“I am incredibly proud that the city’s efforts on climate have been recognised and that Leeds has once again been identified as a global leader when it comes to local climate action.

“Tackling climate change by supporting people to make more sustainable choices which can improve our quality of life is at the heart of our Best City Ambition.

“Over the last eight years, we’ve secured and committed a massive investment—£850 million—into our city for climate schemes, mostly from external grants. This money is already having immediate benefits for the people of Leeds.

“Leeds is an ambitious city. Despite an incredibly challenging financial situation shared by councils nationwide and a changing policy environment, we have made great progress. We will continue taking bold action to help households, support businesses, improve transport, and reduce the future impacts of extreme weather.

“However, when councillors from all parties in Leeds voted to declare a climate emergency in 2019, they simultaneously called on government to provide the resources and powers to make net zero possible. I believe that call is as relevant today as it was then.”


Notes for editors:

  • To score a CDP A grade, among other actions, a city must publicly disclose their submission, have a city-wide emissions inventory, and have published plans for climate action. It must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and have a goal for climate adaptation to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards. A List cities are also taking a variety of other leadership actions including political commitments to tackle climate change. 
  • According to CDP, A List cities take four times as many climate mitigation and adaptation measures as non-A List cities.
  • Over 24,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2023 (including listed companies worth two thirds of global market capitalization) and over 1,100 cities, states and regions. CDP is a founding member of the Science Based Targets initiative, We Mean Business Coalition, The Investor Agenda and the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative.
  • CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 740 financial institutions with over $136 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests.     
  • A table summarising the total capital investment of major climate projects delivered since 2016, or currently being delivered, is included below. Each project counted features carbon reduction and/or climate change adaptation as a key aim. Most of this funding has been secured as a ringfenced grant from external sources. For simplicity and brevity, similar projects have been combined into project categories.

Major projects with climate change reduction or adaptation as a key aim since 2016

Capital investment delivered or in delivery, in millions of £

Sustainable travel infrastructure


Flood alleviation measures


Decarbonisation of residential council buildings


Low carbon district heating


Decarbonisation of non-residential council buildings


Decarbonisation of private sector housing


Incentives and infrastructure for low emission vehicles


New woodland creation and enhancements, increasing tree canopy cover




  • A table setting out the territorial emissions occurring from the Leeds district in 2005 and 2021 is included below. This is the latest official data available.

Leeds’ territorial greenhouse gas emissions, by sector (kt CO2e)
Source: Department for Energy Security & Net Zero










Commercial & Public Sector






Waste Management



Agriculture, Forestry & Land Use






For media enquiries contact:

Chad Newton
Leeds City Council