Increased use of coal behind rise in UK greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon dioxide emissions have risen again, primarily due to an increased use of coal instead of gas in electricity generation, a study by the Office for National Statistics has shown.

The study shows a rise of 1.6% in 2003 on the previous year and is released just weeks after Defra and the DTI published figures showing that carbon dioxide emissions have risen for five of the past seven years (see related story).

ONS published the figures as part of their Environmental Accounts. They differ from the previous Defra estimates as they measure greenhouse gas emissions on a UK residents basis – including emissions generated by UK households and companies in the UK as well as emissions from UK residents transport and travel abroad.

Defra and DTI figures cover emissions from UK territory only and exclude emissions from international aviation and shipping.

Emissions from the transport and communications sector rose by 5.2% in 2003 on the previous year and total energy consumption was up 1.6%.

The news of yet another rise has angered environmentalists who criticise the government’s lack of coherent emissions reduction strategies. Friends of the Earth Executive Director Tony Juniper said:

“These figures show once again that the Government is failing to put in place policies which will tackle climate change. The science is clear that we need to start cutting emissions now if we are to protect ourselves from rapid and sudden climate change. The Government’s Climate Change Review, due soon, must spell out clear policies for tackling our rising emissions. Tough decisions are required on transport, energy efficiency and renewables. Has Tony Blair got the political courage to carry them through?”

UK household emissions were down by 1.0% on the previous year to 157.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. However, this is still a 13.0% rise on the 139.5 million tonnes emitted in 1990.

By David Hopkins.

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