Transport emissions rose from 72 million tonnes in 1970 to 117 million tonnes in 2014, growing as a proportion of overall emissions from 11% to 28%.

The uptick is largely associated with the spiralling number of cars on the road, but since 2008, more efficient cars and a rising number of hybrid vehicles have helped bring emissions back down somewhat.

Emissions from the energy sector have also fallen rapidly in the last few years, and that dip follows a 30-year trend of reduction, from 262 million tonnes in 1970  to 153 million tonnes in 2014.

Figure 1: CO2 emissions by sector

The level of greenhouse gas produced by the country as a whole has fallen by almost 300 million tonnes since 1990.

The figures come from an ONS review of Britain’s progress towards a sustainable economy, society and environment.

The environmental report is the second in the span of a week from the ONS. Last Thursday the statistics watchdog revealed that renewable sources accounted for 5.2% of total energy consumed in 2013, compared with 1.5% in 2000.

Figure 2: Renewables share of total UK energy

The county is also getting more resource efficient, using 9.2 tonnes of material per capita in 2013, down from 12.6 tonnes in 2000.

Figure 3: UK material consumption

Finally, the report revealed that environmental tax revenue (in current prices) was 2.5 times greater in 2014 (£44.6bn) compared with 1993 (£17.6bn). 

Brad Allen

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