That is the conclusion of a report published by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) yesterday (February 8), which showed in a final estimate for 2010 that greenhouse gases increased by more than 3%.

According to DECC, the overall growth in emissions is “primarily” the result of a significantly colder winter which led to a spike in gas use for heating homes as figures show that emissions from the residential sector increased by nearly 15% in 2010 compared with 2009.

It also blames a fuel switch away from nuclear power to coal and gas for electricity generation, which was also found to lead to an increase in the five other greenhouses – gases, methane, nitrous oxide,hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluroride, – covered as part of the Kyoto Protocol.

Meanwhile, CO2 emissions accounted for about 84% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. As a result, in 2010, UK net emissions of CO2 was estimated to be 495.8m tonnes (Mt), which is about 3.8% higher than 2009 levels of 477.8Mt.

Green campaign groups used the findings to lambast the Government’s Green Deal, arguing that more resources are needed to stem the increase in greenhouse emissions.

Greenpeace energy solutions campaigner Louise Hutchins said that the cold snap in 2010 is “no excuse”, arguing that Sweden has higher energy costs and colder winters but lower emissions as a result of better energy saving resources, which she said the UK needs to invest in.

She commented: “This was meant to be the decade when we slashed our emissions and sparked a green jobs bonanza, but instead we’re seeing progress stalling”.

However, she did admit that Ed Davey has greater political ambition to achieve progress, saying “Ed Davey gets it, now let’s see him deliver”.

In his first speech as secretary of state, Mr Davey said this morning (February 8): “I’m hugely enthusiastic about energy efficiency. It’s the cheapest way of cutting carbon – and cutting bills for consumers. It has to be right at the heart of what we do.”

He added: “The UK has some of the most inefficient housing stock in the EU. But getting this right means as a nation we make energy savings over the next decade equivalent to two nuclear power stations while making everyone’s homes warmer and cheaper to run.”

Meanwhile, WWF-UK described the spike in emissions as a “wake-up call” for the Government, warning that urgent action is needed to “step up the pace on improving residential energy efficiency, both to reduce emissions and to tackle fuel poverty”.

WWF-UK head of climate Keith Allott, said: “If the Government ever needed a wake-up call on greenhouse gas emissions here it is.

“In particular it is alarming to see emissions from homes rising when people are struggling to pay their energy bills. The Government must ensure that its policies on energy efficiency deliver at scale to reduce emissions and protect consumers.”

He also warned that the UK’s “over reliance on gas has pushed up emissions along with people’s energy bills”, adding that “it’s a clear sign that the government needs to back investors in renewable energy and get us off the fossil fuel hook once and for all”.

The full DECC report can be downloaded here.

Carys Matthews

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