Greenhouse gas emission statistics for the UK

Today I shall tell you about the good news and the bad news. First, there is the good news. According to the methodology accepted by the Kyoto Protocol for calculating greenhouse gas emissions of the six greenhouse gases recognised by Kyoto, the United Kingdom has reduced is greenhouse gas emissions between 2007 and 2008.

 Now the bad news; I regret to report that the reduction was only “nearly” 2%, which is probably the margin for error in these calculations. In other words the reduction could have been nothing or 4%.

 The reasons provided for this very small reduction are twofold; first there was some fuel switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation. Natural gas burning produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal burning. The second reason given is increased fuel efficiency in road transport.

The emission figures given are net emissions. Some greenhouse gases (mostly carbon dioxide) can take out of the atmosphere by forestry. As far as we can ascertain the UK’s emissions of 531 million tonnes for 2008, are emissions which will stay in the atmosphere until around 2108 – a hundred years, which is why the 2% reduction in emissions is not going to have any effect on climate change.

Most of the carbon dioxide emissions came from business, transport and residential end use of energy. The distinction in my mind between business, transport and residential is a little blurred, especially between business and transport. However it is worth noting that residential use of energy in the United Kingdom accounts for 26 of the carbon dioxide emissions.

It is clear therefore that increasing energy efficiency and microgeneration for the residential sector will provide some rapid emission reductions but has the government the will and the competence to be able to do this? We shall see.

You can see the figures and links to more detailed information at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/globatmos/download/ghg_ns_20090326.pdf

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