Transport only sector to increase emissions since 1970

Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Transport is the only sector in the UK that has seen increased emissions since 1970.


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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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