The County Durham Sport story map contains new information about climate change. It shows how carbon emissions vary within County Durham. Visit the story map and click on the ‘Active Environments and Active Travel’ tab.
Carbon emissions are linked to physical activity. For example, if we walk or cycle instead of driving, we reduce our carbon emissions and increase our physical activity. Participating in physical activity can also contribute to carbon emissions. Our challenge is to make sure we are encouraging and supporting people to be active in an environmentally sustainable way.
What are carbon emissions?
Carbon emissions are produced from burning fossil-fuels for things like manufacturing, transport, heating, and electricity.
Carbon traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere. This can disrupt weather patterns and cause global temperatures to change. For this reason, carbon emissions are an important indicator of climate change.
Carbon emissions and physical activity
Carbon emissions are connected to physical activity in many different ways. For example, if we walk or cycle instead of driving, we reduce our carbon emissions and increase our physical activity.
Similarly, initiatives to protect the environment often provide opportunities to be more physically active. For example, plans to expand parks and green spaces are good for the environment and provide more areas for people to be active outside.
A changing climate can also influence our ability to be active outdoors. Climate change increases the risk of heatwaves, floods, droughts, and fires. Hotter summers and wetter, colder winters can make it more difficult for people to be active outside.
Participating in physical activity can also increase carbon emissions. This depends on the activity, for example skiing has a greater impact on the environment than walking. This is due to increased travel and necessary equipment. However, these high-carbon activities are usually only accessible to wealthier people.
Carbon emissions in County Durham
Around the world, high-income countries have higher carbon emissions than lower-income countries . Interestingly, we see the same pattern in County Durham too.
The wealthiest areas in County Durham have higher carbon emissions than the poorest areas. Check out the story map to see the carbon emissions in your area.
We know that people living in the poorest parts of County Durham are more likely to (1) be inactive, and (2) emit less carbon emissions. Whereas people living in the wealthiest parts of the county are more likely to (1) be active, and (2) emit far more carbon emissions.
Our challenge is to increase physical activity in an environmentally sustainable way. This means we want to support and encourage people to be active without increasing carbon emissions. We also want to help everyone to reduce their carbon emissions whilst staying active.
 Chancel, L. (2022). Global carbon inequality over 1990–2019. Nature Sustainability, 5(11), 931-938. Accessed from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-022-00955-z
 Met Office. Effects of climate change. Accessed from: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/climate-change/effects-of-climate-change