Fall in greenhouse gas emissions hailed as 'encouraging'

The UK's greenhouse gas emissions fell by almost 2 per cent in 2008, official figures have showed.

The UK's greenhouse gas emissions fell by almost 2 per cent in 2008, official figures have showed.

The final estimates for the year showed a fall of 1.9 per cent in the group of six greenhouse gases and a drop of 2 per cent for the most common of them, carbon dioxide.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the decrease is the result of continuing to switch from coal to natural gas for making electricity, combined with lower consumption of fossil fuels in industry and transport.

But emissions from households rose by more than 3 per cent, as people used more fossil fuels to heat their homes.

Overall, the six greenhouse gases declined from 640.5 million tonnes in 2007 to 628.3 million tonnes in 2008, while CO2 emissions dropped from 543.6 million tonnes to 532.8 million tonnes.

There were decreases in emissions from energy supply, transport, businesses and industrial processes, but greenhouse gases from homes - which includes heating but not electricity generation -rose by 3.1 per cent and C02 increased by 3.2 per cent.

Overall, the figures are slightly better than the results for 2007, which saw carbon dioxide emissions fall by 1.5 per cent and output of greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxides, down by 1.7 per cent in 2007.

The UK has exceeded its target to cut emissions by 12.5 per cent on 1990 levels as part of the Kyoto climate treaty, but is set to miss the Government's long-held goal to reduce CO2 by 20 per cent by 2010.

The 2008 figures showed a 10 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide on 1990 levels without carbon trading, and 13 per cent if trading was counted.

Minister for Energy and Climate Change Joan Ruddock said: "Today's greenhouse gas emissions statistics are encouraging and show a continued decline in greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 2 per cent during 2008.

"We are now clearly exceeding our Kyoto target of 12.5 per cent below 1990 levels. UK emissions are now 19.4 per cent below 1990 levels without emissions trading or 22 per cent including emissions trading.

"The UK is demonstrating the kind of year-on-year reductions that set an example in the world community."

And she said: "We are determined to strengthen and sustain the momentum behind the low-carbon transition in the UK, supporting investment in low carbon technology, creating green jobs and providing a healthier future for everyone."

The provisional figures for emissions in 2009, which are likely to have been affected by the recession, are published next month.

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