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CO2 emissions down 2% – excluding aviation

April 3, 2009

The government has published its provisional figures for 2008 greenhouse gases. Emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 2% from 2007.  But aviation was excluded from the figures.


The reduction of 2% is welcome. But given the government’s target of 80% cuts by 2050, this rate of reduction is not enough. A year-on-year reduction of 2% up to 2050 would mean emissions down to 228 million tonnes pa in 2050, but still well above the target of 118 mtonnes.

In the 6 page statistical press release, there is no mention of aviation (or shipping).   Figures for international aviation are almost certainly excluded from the totals; their inclusion could make the targets much more difficult to reach.

Summary of statistical press release

DECC [Department of Energy and Climate Change] today [31/3/09]publishes provisional 2008 estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy & Climate Change Minister, Joan Ruddock said: “Once again emissions in the UK are down.  It’s clear that our policies will achieve more than what’s required under Kyoto, but we have much more to do at home to maintain our leadership globally.

Our Climate Change Act is a world first, it will bind this and future governments to increasingly ambitious carbon budgets, the first three of which will be set out alongside the Budget next month.  Everyone will have a part to play, from government and businesses down to each of us in our homes.”

Greenhouse gas emissions – headline results

* In 2008, UK emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were provisionally estimated to be 623.8 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. This was 2 per cent lower than the 2007 figure of 636.6 million tonnes.

* Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for about 85 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2007, the latest year for which final results are available. In 2008, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide were provisionally estimated to be 531.8 million tonnes. This was 2 per cent lower than the 2007 figure of 542.6 million tonnes. The decrease resulted from fuel switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation, combined with lower fossil fuel consumption by industry and in road transport.