UK greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.8% in 2019
8th February 2021 | Commercial Energy
The UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 2.8% in 2019, according to the latest government figures. In 21019, the UK’s net territorial emissions (occurred within UK borders) of the basket of seven GHGs covered by the Kyoto Protocol (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride) were estimated to be 454.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), a decrease of 2.8% compared to the 2018 figure of 468.1 million tonnes and 43.8% lower than they were in 1990.
Carbon dioxide made up around 80% of the 2019 total, with methane at 12%, nitrous oxide 5%, and fluorinated gases at 3%. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, (BEIS), the decrease in GHG emissions from 2018 was mainly caused by reductions in emissions in the energy supply sector, down 8.1% (8.4 MtCo2e). This was driven by the continued decrease in power station emissions due to the change in the fuel mix for electricity generation, in particular a reducing in the use of coal. Emissions from energy supply are now 65.5% lower than they were in 1990.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Emissions from transport fell by 1.8% (2.2 MtCo2e) in 2019, their second year in decline having previously risen since 2013. Despite this, transport remains the largest emitting sector, responsible for 27% of all GHG emissions in the UK. Transport emissions are only 4.6% lower than in 1900, as increased road traffic has largely offset improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency.
Between 1990 and 2019, there has been relatively little overall change in the level of GHG emissions from the transport sector, according to the BEIS figures. Between 1990 and 2007 (when emissions peaked), there was a general increasing trend, with some fluctuations year-to-year. After this peak, emissions dropped each year until 2013, at which point the trend reversed to show small increases most years. The overall effects of these fluctuations over time means emissions are estimated to have been around 5% lower in 2019 than in 1990.
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