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Recession behind sharp fall in UK emissions

Greenwise Staff
1st February 2011
UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell sharply in 2009 on the back of the economic recession.
Government statistics released today show that GHG emissions were down 8.7 per cent last year on 2008 figures, when they fell by a much more modest 1.9 per cent. Carbon dioxide, the main GHG, dropped by almost 9.8 per cent.

UK GHG emissions covered by the Kyoto Protocol stood at 566.3 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2009 compared to 620.5 million tonnes in 2008.

The figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) mean UK emissions have fallen 26. 5 per cent since 1990, ahead of the 23 per cent cut the country is required to meet by 2012 to meet it first legally-binding 'carbon budget’.

Sectorial performance
There were falls across all sectors, but the biggest declines were in the industrial and business sectors, which experienced a 36.5 per cent and 11.8 per cent drop, respectively. Emissions from the energy sector also fell by 11 per cent.

The emissions reductions reflected less well on transport and housing, both of which contribute significantly towards overall UK carbon emissions. Transport saw a 4.2 per cent cut, while residential decreased by 5.8 per cent. This contrasted however, with a 3.1 per cent increase in the residential sector the year before.

Despite the fall, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said this was no time for "black slapping" and the UK must press on with its transition to a low carbon economy.

"Yes, emissions were down in 2009 but so was the econom," he said. "A low carbon approach has to be a vital part of kick starting and future proofing our economy, getting us off the oil hook and onto long term green growth. That’s why we’re wasting no time in reforming the electricity market, setting up the Green Investment Bank, and legislating for the Green Deal."

The UK is committed to cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

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Recession behind sharp fall in UK emissions
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