UK publishes ‘satellite’ environmental accounts

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published the first annual set of environmental accounts for the UK. These accounts, published as 'satellite' accounts in the annual accounts publication, The Blue Book, represent a major step toward the integration of environmental data into the UK's calculations for its Gross Domestic Product.


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Environmental accounts covering the years up to 1994 were published in May 1998 and the most recent edition of The Blue Book brings the figures fully up to date.

Data shows that UK emissions of pollutants that contribute to acid rain development fell by 39% between 1990 to 1997. This reduction was due, in large part, to changes in the electricity supply sector from coal to natural gas production.

Overall energy consumption increased during the same period, but greenhouse gas emissions fell by 10%. Once again, this was the result of a shift from more polluting electricity generation, including coal, to natural gas and, to a lesser extent, to nuclear power.

ONS environmental accounts show, however, that greenhouse gas emissions rose from 1990-1997 in the domestic and non-domestic road transport sectors and that road transport was also “a major contributor to the UK’s increase in energy consumption”. Increased use of private vehicles is thought to be a strong factor in these increases.

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