Emissions carry on falling

5th June 2014


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Total emissions of direct greenhouse gases decreased by 26% in the UK between 1990 and 2012, according to the latest figures from Decc for the GHG inventory, the annual submission to the UNFCCC required by the Kyoto protocol.

Under the protocol, the UK is committed to reducing emissions of six GHGs – carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide (N2O); hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) – by 12.5% against 1990 levels during the first commitment period, which ran from 2008 to 2012.

According to the inventory, carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 totalled 475.7 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e), a 19.7% decline on 1990. At the same time, emissions of methane amounted to 50.8MtCO2e in 2012, down by 51.4% compared with 1990. Emissions of N2O in 2012 were 36.1MtCO2e, while emissions of F-gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6) totalled 14.7MtCO2e. This means that UK emissions of these two GHGs have declined since 1990 and 1995 (the base line for F-gases) by 48.4% and 13.3% respectively.

The data reveals that most of the decline in total GHG emissions over the past 22 years is down to a fall in emissions from the energy sector, which has been driven by fuel switching, structural change and improvements in end-use efficiency at power stations. However, the decline in emissions of individual GHGs is often due to specific circumstances. The decline in F-gases, for example, has been due primarily to the installation of abatement equipment by two of the three manufacturers of such gases in the UK.

Eurostat, meanwhile, estimates that CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion decreased by 2.5% in 2013 across EU countries. It says carbon emissions last year fell in 22 member states, including the UK (down 2.4%), though the largest emitter of CO2, Germany, recorded a 2% rise.

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