Emissions of the ‘basket’ of six greenhouse gases fell by 9 percent between 1990 and 1997, a figure greeted by the Government as representing good progress towards reaching the 12.5 per cent UK target in 2008-2012 set by the Kyoto Protocol.

Carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 7 percent between 1990 and 1998 and the electricity generation industry is responsible for the majority of this fall, Energy Minister John Battle said.

“Recent growth in electricity generated from renewable sources and increases in the installed electrical capacity of combined heat and power plants will further help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation,” Battle said. “The analysis of carbon dioxide emissions and provisional estimates for 1998 show the UK is still well on course to meet targets for the year 2000 and beyond, due to improved efficiency in the way in which energy is used. Particularly in power stations and oil refineries where improvements in conversion efficiency have taken place.”

The UK Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions will publish a revised National Air Quality Strategy at the end of the year. This will set out five to ten year objectives to further reduce concentration levels of pollutants.

The UK contributes about 2.5 per cent of global emissions from energy and industrial processes. Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UK has a commitment to return greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 level by the year 2000.

A Protocol to the Convention was agreed at Kyoto in December 1997 which will commit the EU (including the UK) to an 8 per cent reduction in emissions of a basket of six greenhouse gases, including CO2, relative to the 1990 level over the period 2008-2012.

Figures show that total UK emissions of these greenhouse gases fell by 9 per cent between 1990 and 1997. At the meeting of the Environmental Council on 16-17 June 1998, under arrangements for sharing the EU’s 8% target among member states, it was agreed that the UK’s legally binding target for 2008-2012 would be to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels.

Emissions increased by an estimated 1 per cent between 1997 and 1998 due to the increased use of coal in generating electricity in place of reduced imports from France and also due to the maintenance and repair of some CCGT and nuclear stations in the UK.

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