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Transport most polluting sector as UK greenhouse gas emissions fall

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The latest figures show UK greenhouse gas emissions fell 2 per cent in 2018 but the transport sector, which is the biggest polluter, has seen little improvement.

Figures from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy show that transport remains the largest source of pollution at 28 per cent with energy supply on 23 per cent.

But while energy supply delivered the largest reduction in emissions from 2017 to 2018, with a 7 per cent drop, transport saw just a 1 per cent drop, the first fall since 2013.

Historic figures show that emissions from the grid have fallen by 62 per cent since 1990 as the UK rapidly shifts away from coal power. In the same period, transport has reduced its emissions by just 3 per cent.

This week the Government said it would bring forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035, five years earlier than previously proposed, to help tackle emissions from vehicles.

The plans were announced as the Prime Minister held an official launch for the UN climate COP26 talks which are taking place in Glasgow in November, pledging the UK would lead the way on tackling climate change.

The figures also show that colder weather in the first part of 2018 saw emissions from homes rise by nearly 4 per cent as households cranked up the heating.

With 85 per cent of homes heated by gas boilers, emissions from household heating are another area where action is needed to help get the UK on track to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.

Energy regulator Ofgem published its ‘Decarbonisation Action Plan’ on Monday which details how it intends to make the national grid more “flexible” to account for greater use of renewables. Some 29 million homes will need to have their heating system changed to take full advantage and lower the UK’s total emissions.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said the figures showed the need for “more action and less talk from the Government”.

He said the main driver for emissions reduction was coal, while the transport sector was pumping out as much greenhouse gases as 30 years ago and emissions from housing were going up.

“And the carbon footprint from the goods we import isn’t even factored in,” he warned.

“If Boris Johnson really wants the UK to lead on the climate, we need to see some action, and fast.”

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