Greenhouse gas emissions by the United Kingdom
According to official statistics, there has been a reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom. These emissions are caused primarily by primary energy consumption. If indirect emissions are accounted for, however, research suggests that UK emissions may have increased since 1990, due largely to manufacture of short-term consumer items overseas.
Carbon dioxide (CO
2) and other greenhouse gases continue to drive global warming and ocean acidification. Under the Kyoto protocol the UK Government committed to reducing the levels of CO
2 and five other greenhouse gases by 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012. These commitments have been surpassed and new targets set.
The Climate Change Act 2008 set the country's emission reduction targets. The "legally binding" targets are a reduction of least 80% by 2050 (against the 1990 baseline).
It also mandates interim, 5-year budgets. The first three are as follows:
Budget 1 (2008–12): Total cap of 3018 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (22% below 1990 baseline)
Budget 2 (2013–17): 2782 MtCO2e (28% below baseline)
Budget 3 (2018–22): 2544 MtCO2e (34% below baseline)
The European Union has its own emissions target, to which the UK contributes. This currently stands at 20% by 2020 though this may be raised to 30%. This target helps to direct the European Union Emission Trading Scheme.
Criticism of targets
A report by the University College London Environment Institute (commissioned by Channel 4 for Dispatches Great Global Warming Swindle programme) suggested that current government policies would achieve a reduction in greenhouse gases of between 12 and 17% by 2020, compared to an implied target of up to 30%. The report states that the over-riding block to achieving 30% is that nearly all the government's policies are voluntary.
Such targets have also been criticised for ignoring the emissions embodied in imports, thereby attributing them to other - often developing - countries such as China. One report showed that Britain's imports are responsible for more overseas emissions than those of any other European country, and should add an extra 4.3 tonnes CO
2 to the average 9.7 per capita.
The figures below are the annual figures for carbon dioxide emissions since 1990. They exclude carbon emissions from international aviation and international shipping, which together rose by 74.2% from 22.65 to 39.45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 1990 and 2004. Reductions in methane emissions are largely due to a decline in the country's coal industry and to improved landfilling technologies.
|(Domestic target)**||(UK)||(Kyoto target)***|
|*Change percentages are the figures originally published. All other figures are revised annually as improvements are made to the calculation methods, so the percentages shown do not necessarily align with the rest of the data.
**Domestic target is based on CO2 only. Baseline 592.1
2 emissions (emissions minus removals)
|Nitrous Oxide (N2O)||65.1||65.0||58.5||53.8||54.9||53.5||53.4||54.5||53.9||43.3||42.3||39.8||38.1||37.5||38.0||36.9||35.2||34.7||33.9||34.6||35.6|
|Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)||1.0||1.1||1.1||1.2||1.2||1.2||1.3||1.2||1.3||1.4||1.8||1.4||1.5||1.3||1.1||1.1||0.9||0.8||0.7||0.7||0.7|
|Kyoto greenhouse gas basket||773.8||780.8||756.0||735.1||724.2||714.1||735.1||709.6||705.0||672.2||674.1||677.4||655.8||661.2||659.3||655.2||650.0||640.5||628.3||563.6||590.4|
1. Figures for each individual gas include the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry sector (LULUCF). These emissions cover the UK and Crown Dependencies, but exclude emissions from UK Overseas Territories.
2. Kyoto basket total differs slightly from sum of individual pollutants above as the basket uses a narrower definition for the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry sector (LULUCF). This includes emissions from the UK, Crown Dependencies and UK Overseas Territories.
3. Kyoto base year consists of emissions of CO
2, CH4 and N2O in 1990, and of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 in 1995. Includes an allowance for net emissions from LULUCF in 1990.
4. The entire time series is revised each year to take account of methodological improvements in the UK emissions inventory.
5. Emissions are presented as carbon dioxide equivalent in line with international reporting and carbon trading. To convert Carbon dioxide into carbon equivalents, divide figures by 44/12.
6. Figures shown do not include any adjustment for the effect of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS), which was introduced in 2005.
- 4 Degrees and Beyond International Climate Conference (Oxford, 2009)
- Kevin Anderson (climate scientist, Manchester)
- Energy in the United Kingdom
- Energy conservation in the United Kingdom
- List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions
- United Kingdom Climate Change Programme
- "Is the 'peak consumption' hypothesis correct? | George Monbiot | Environment | guardian.co.uk". The Guardian (London). 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
- IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
- Carbon budgets - Department of Energy and Climate Change. Decc.gov.uk. Retrieved on 2010-11-04.
- "EU 'half way to emissions target'". BBC News. 2010-06-03.
- Connor, Steve (March 2007). "The real global warming swindle". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- "UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Are We On Target?" (PDF). University College London. March 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- Black, Richard (2010-03-09). "Third of EU emissions 'imported'". BBC News.
- Sample, Ian (2010-03-08). "UK import emissions are the highest in Europe, figures show". The Guardian (London).
- defra, published January 2006.
- Environmental Change Institute (ECI) - Oxford University. Eci.ox.ac.uk (2006-10-24). Retrieved on 2010-11-04.
- Emission Statistics. 2008 final UK figures Accessed 27/06/10