UK's carbon footprint shrinks 7%

6th February 2013

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The UK produced 7% fewer greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions during 2011, bringing the country's total output to a record 28.5% below 1990 levels, DECC has confirmed

Final figures published by the energy and climate change department, reveal that following a 3% increase in 2010, GHG emissions during 2011 resumed their downward trend, to levels below that of 2009.

Emissions from residential properties fell most dramatically, with a drop of 23% year-on-year, as warmer winter temperatures resulted in a reduction in gas burned for heating.

Reductions in GHGs were also seen in the energy sector, which produced 6.5% less than in 2010, due largely to an increase in nuclear generation and a simultaneous fall in gas use in power stations, which reached its lowest level since 1998. There was also a 3% fall in total electricity demand in 2011 compared with 2010 levels, though consumption was still 15% higher than in 1990.

According to DECC, GHG output fell to a greater or lesser extent from all sectors in 2011, except from agriculture, which remained constant at 51.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e).

GHG emissions from business, which is responsible for 13% of the UK’s total output, fell by 3% in 2011, while GHGs from industrial processes fell 13%. Emissions from transport fell by just 1.4%, however.

The bulk of emissions reductions came from cutting carbon dioxide, which accounts for more than four-fifths of the UK’s total GHG emissions. In 2011, CO2 emissions fell by almost 8%. By contrast, emissions of methane dropped 2% and nitrous oxide (NOx) by 3%.

The bulk of the NOx emissions came from the industrial sector. The installation of abatement technologies at the UK’s three nitric acid plants resulted in NOx emissions falling 85% year-on-year, says DECC.

Levels of fluorinated gases (f-gases), which have replaced more harmful refrigeration and air conditioning gases, continued to rise in 2011, reaching a new high of 15.5 MtCO2e. Eighty per cent of f-gases came from the business sector.

While overall output of f-gases is up, DECC confirms that rates of increase are slowing as a result of tighter controls on leaks.


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