The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped in 2013 by 2.4 per cent, official figures have revealed, with the country’s energy sector contributing the most to the reduction.
The energy sector, responsible for 33 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and by far the most significant polluter, achieved a 6.8 per cent drop in its carbon footprint, largely attributed to the decrease in the use of coal for energy generation and the spread of renewable resources.
Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, the last definite data available, were down from around 582 million tonnes in 2012 to 568 million.
The reduction comes after a rise in emissions between 2011 and 2012.
"This drop shows the Government's policies to cut our emissions while securing our energy supplies are working - we relied less on fossil fuels and got more green electricity from renewables in 2013," said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.
Emissions of carbon dioxide, which makes up 82 per cent of the overall greenhouse gas emissions, dropped by 1.8 per cent, from 476 million tonnes in 2012 to less than 468 million tonnes in 2013. Methane, whose 10 per cent contribution makes it the number two most significant man-related global warming agent, was down by 5 million tonnes from 61.2 in 2012.
"The statistics for 2013 show a welcome emissions reduction, although it is not enough to cancel out the previous increase in 2012,” Professor Paul Pearson, from Cardiff University's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, commented on the data released by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.
However, he said, if the legally binding long-term goals are to be achieved, the country has to maintain a rather ‘steep downward trajectory’.
"The UK just about managed to achieve its interim target for 2008-2012 inclusive, largely because of the recession. Despite the 2013 reduction, the figure is still over 2 per cent above the new average required for 2013-2017.
"This election year, politicians of all parties need to explain how they will achieve the challenging new emissions reductions in a recovering economy."
Emissions have decreased in most of the nine analysed sectors with the exception of business (up by 2.8 per cent), residential (up by 0.3 per cent) and industrial (up by almost 23 per cent). The latter contributed to the overall emissions by 2 per cent and has previously achieved major reductions of around 79 per cent between 1990 and 2012.