Recession-hit UK cut emissions by 8.6% in 2009

The UK is on track to meet its self-imposed targets for cutting greenhouse gases, but the success is in part due to the slow-down of industry triggered by the recession.

DECC published its latest Energy Trends bulletin, which includes information on energy consumption, carbon emissions and the source of energy.

The figures show that greenhouse gas emissions fell by an estimated 8.6% in 2009, but this is obviously skewed by the weak economy.

Perhaps more telling is the share of electricity supplied from low carbon sources, with renewables up 1.7% on 2008 figures to 6.8% and nuclear up 4.8% to 17.8%.

Coal is down 3.7% to 27.7% while gas – the single largest source of electricity in the UK – saw a slight dip, with its share of the energy mix down to 45.1% from 45.8%.

The stats suggest the UK is also making headway on energy security, at least in the short-term, with net imports falling from 2.9% in 2008 to just 0.8% in 2009.

Commenting on the emissions , Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Joan Ruddock, said: “today’s provisional estimates for 2009 greenhouse gas emissions are very promising and show a continued decline in greenhouse gas emissions of 8.6% during 2009.”

“We already know from our 2008 figures that we are well on track to exceeding our Kyoto target of 12.5% below 1990 levels and are making good progress towards our first carbon budget target in 2012.

“Today’s results indicate that we are still moving in the right direction.

“The significant reduction in emissions would no doubt have been impacted by the recent economic circumstances.

“However, we should still recognise the good progress we are making towards meeting our targets, and should not underestimate the effort made so far by government, industry, business and homeowners alike. We are determined to continue to strengthen and sustain the momentum behind the low-carbon transition in the UK.

“We have said before in response to the Committee on Climate Change that we will not carry forward any over-achievement resulting from the recession against the first carbon budget and will not be deterred from continuing to work towards a low carbon economy in the UK.

“There will be no let-up in implementing the measures set out in the Low Carbon Transition Plan, so that emissions reductions persist as the UK returns to trend growth.”

Sam Bond

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