Tue 5 Feb 2019
The UK’s total greenhouse emissions are estimated to have decreased between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest government statistics, though emissions in the agriculture and waste sectors have increased and emissions from transport have not changed, leading to calls for greater government investment in the green economy.
The ‘Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics: 1990-2017’ document, released today (5 February) by the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), shows that total greenhouse gas emissions fell by three per cent across 2016/17, to 460 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e). Total carbon dioxide emissions – the most prevalent greenhouse gas, accounting for 81 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2017 – also fell by three per cent to 373 millions tonnes CO2e.
From 1990 to 2017, the government statistics estimate that the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 42.1 per cent, while the total carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 37.4 per cent.
In terms of individual sectors, four of the seven sectors listed registered a fall in emissions between 2016 and 2017: energy supply (eight per cent), business (two per cent), residential (four per cent) and other (two per cent). However, emissions from agriculture and waste management both increased by one percent, while no change was recorded for transport.
The flatlining of transport emissions reductions is significant, given that the sector was responsible for 27 per cent of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2017, the highest percentage of any industry. While other sectors have experienced significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 – energy supply emissions have fallen by 60 per cent – emissions coming from transport have only fallen by two per cent across the 27-year period, holding back further reductions as a whole.
The BEIS statistics show that while the volume of emissions from passenger cars has generally decreased from the mid-2000s due to improvements in fuel efficiency in petrol and diesel cars, this decrease has been partially offset by an increase in emissions from light duty vehicles.
The statistics also chart the UK’s progress against the carbon budgets set by the Climate Change Act 2008, which established a legally binding framework to reduce the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent (from 1990 baselines) by 2050.