The Government is confident that the UK is on course to meet its Kyoto targets. It is estimated that CO2 emissions will be about 13% below 1990 levels in 2010 and that emissions of all greenhouses gases will be around 20% below.
The Government is currently reviewing its Climate Change Programme with a view to ensuring its more ambitious domestic target – for a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide – will be achieved by 2010.

The outcome of this consultation will be announced this summer.

It is estimated that the existing Climate Change Programme,started in 2000, has succeeded in reducing CO2 levels by about 4% compared to what would have happened otherwise. Emissions of all greenhouse gases per unit of GDP have fallen by 3.58% per year since 1997; faster than the 3.12% per year achieved in 1990-7, through a combination of measures to reduce CO2 and non-CO2 emissions.

Falls of emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and the fluorinated compunds have been particularly significant and show 41% reductions since 1990.

Emissions of these gases fell by 10% between 1990 and 1997 and by 34% between 1997 and 2003, mainly because of integrated pollution prevention and control, diversion away from landfill for waste, increased utilisation of landfill gas and the UK emissions trading scheme.

As expected, the figures for carbon dioxide increased between 2002 and 2003. The increase, was 2.2% as against the provisional figures released last year which suggested a 1.5% increase.

The increase in 2003 is largely due to the greater use of coal for electricity generation, and a decrease in net imports of electricity from the continent.

Carbon dioxide emissions are now estimated to have been 5.6% lower in 2003 than in 1990. There have been reductions in emissions from the energy sector and across industry, and increases from residential fossil fuel use and transport.

Expectations on long-term fuel price relativities and the increased impact of measures in the climate change programme mean that CO2 emissions should eventually to return to their downward path.

Despite the rise in emissions during 2003, longer term the UK is still on course to meet its contribution to the environmental targets set at Kyoto of a 12.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2008-12 compared to a 1990 baseline. In 2003 greenhouse gas emissions were about 13.4% below the 1990 baseline.

Environment Minister, Elliot Morley said: “In overall terms, the figures are encouraging and put the UK ahead of most developed countries. In particular, it is pleasing that we are well on target to meet our Kyoto obligations.

“It is disappointing that there has been an increase in carbon dioxide emissions and this will inform the Government’s current discussions on what more needs to be done between 2005 and 2010 to meet our more ambitious domestic targets.

“Figures will however vary from year to year. It is important to get a downward trend.
“Our 20% goal on CO2 means that we are committed to going well beyond our Kyoto target to reduce emissions by 12.5% below the base year level between 2008 and 2012.”

The new figures for 2003 form part of the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, published by DEFRA and available on:

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