UK air quality improvements in 2011
- Manufacturing ,
- Waste ,
- Air ,
- Pollution & Waste Management
Emissions of harmful air pollution across the UK fell in 2011 continuing the long-term downward trend, according to the latest figures from Defra
After a 2% rise in sulphur dioxide (SO2) levels in 2010, emissions fell by 6.9% last year, resulting in an annual output across the UK equivalent to just 6% of 1970 levels, confirms annual statistics from the environment department.
A similar year-on-year reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions was recorded in 2011, while particulate matter, PM10 and PM2.5 fell by 3% and 4.5% respectively. The amount of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) emitted into the air also dropped, by 2.5%.
Stricter regulation of pollutants from industry and transport, alongside a switch from coal to gas to generate electricity have been key to the long-term air pollution improvements, concludes Defra in a report detailing annual air pollution data from 1970 to 2011.
Despite overall improvements in air pollution levels, a rise in the adoption of anaerobic digestion to manage waste and an increase in the use of nitrogen-containing fertiliser, has seen ammonia levels rise steadily over the past four years. In 2011, ammonia emissions increased 1.6% to reach their highest levels since 2007.
Air pollution from the manufacturing and construction sectors fell by more than the UK average in 2011, says Defra, with SO2 levels falling 8.4% and emissions of NOx and particulate matter dropping by more than 9%.
Emissions from non-road transport, however, rose slightly with particulate matter increasing by 2.5% and NOx levels by 3.4%.
As Defra revealed the positive air quality impacts of moving away from coal-fired power plants in the UK, figures from the International Energy Agency confirmed that demand for coal was increasing across the globe.
According to the agency’s latest calculations, by 2017 the world will burn 1.2 billion more tonnes of coal a year than it does today, meaning it will rival oil as the top energy source.
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted Southern Water for thousands of illegal raw sewage discharges that polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, resulting in a record £90m fine.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, despite the carbon intensity of production declining. That is according to a new report from the UN food agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which forecasts that 80% of the increase will come from livestock.
Half of consumers worldwide now consider the sustainability of food and drink itself, not just its packaging, when buying, a survey of 14,000 shoppers across 18 countries has discovered. This suggests that their understanding of sustainability is evolving to include wellbeing and nutrition, with sustainable packaging now considered standard.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.