UK emissions continue to fall

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK fell slightly in 2006 but Government ministers admitted much more should be done.

Figures revealed that total GHG emissions were down 0.5% from 2005 levels, and carbon dioxide – which makes up about 85% of the UK’s GHG emissions – fell by 0.1%. This was despite a 2.9% growth in the economy in 2006.

UK emissions are now 16.4% lower than 1990 levels, and 20.7% lower when the effect of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is included – putting the UK in an even stronger position to exceed its Kyoto Protocol commitment.

“The UK is on track to meet and go well beyond its Kyoto commitments,” Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said.

“But as a country we must do much more across the board. We have to make a real change to every aspect of our lives and our economy.”

He said the Government’s forthcoming Climate Change Bill and Planning Bill – which will remove barriers to renewable energy projects – and new nuclear power stations would help to achieve that change.

Matthew Farrow, head of environment at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “This fall is welcome, and proves that a strong, growing economy can be combined with falling emissions.

“However, we are still off course to meet the Government’s 2020 target.

“As the CBI’s Climate Change Task Force made clear, businesses, Government and individuals need to make climate change a shared national priority if we are to achieve the urgent changes needed to avert the worst effects of climate change.”

The biggest decrease in CO2 emissions was from households, with a fall of 4% on 2005 levels, while businesses managed a 1.6% decrease.

However, emissions from energy supply grew by 1.5% and transport pumped out an extra 1.3%.

Aviation emissions also continued to grow. Between 2005 and 2006, CO2 emissions from domestic aviation decreased by 2.8% but those from international aviation grew by 1.5% as a result of increased flights.

Between 1990 and 2006, emissions from aviation fuel use more than doubled.

Mr Benn added: “The rising emissions from international flights make it clearer than ever that we need to get all flights arriving at and departing from EU airports into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme by 2012.

“The European Parliament must back the agreement reached by Environment Ministers last December.”

Kate Martin

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