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Official statistics for CO2 emissions published

23rd February, 2010

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published its final figures for emissions of greenhouse gases for 2008. (There is quite a long time lag before publication, due to the time taken to collect and validate every component statistic.)

Full tables can be found on the DECC statistics page – click on ‘2008 final UK figures – data tables’. We reproduce the figures for aviation and express these as percentages of UK total emissions.

As we highlight frequently, the government’s total figure for emissions (and their 80% target for cuts by 2050) excludes international aviation and shipping and the DECC totals do not include them. However, the DECC tables do  show international aviation and shipping as separate figures. We are therefore able to add these figures into the totals and express aviation as a % of a new ‘AEF total’.  In the table below we show emissions in millions of tonnes of CO2, that figure as a % of the DECC total and as a % of the AEF total.

DECC category Mtonnes CO2 % of DECC total % of AEF total*
Domestic aviation, landing and take off 0.64 0.12 0.11
Domestic aviation, cruise 1.54 0.29 0.27
International aviation 34.10 6.40 5.96
Total aviation 36.28 6.81 6.34
International shipping 5.73 1.08 1.00

* The AEF total includes all the sectors included by DECC in their total, but adds in international aviation and shipping.

It must be remembered that these figures apply only to CO2 (carbon dioxide). Due to emissions of other greenhouse gases at altitude, the climate change impacts of aviation are considered by government to be 1.9 times higher than those from CO2 alone (the 1.9 excludes cirrus formation). Aviation contributes around 11% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to 6.3% of its CO2.

We show shipping in the table because its treatment in the statistics is similar to that of aviation. But we also include it to inform the debate about whether aviation is being unfairly targeted as compared with shipping. (This issue was also addressed in an earlier story.)

For background readers may like to see a breakdown between all the sectors:

Sector % of CO2
Energy supply (mainly elelctricity) 36
Business and industrial  (except electricity)   17
Residential (except electricity)   14
Public   2
Transport except aviation and shipping      22
Domestic and military aviation         1
International aviation  6
Shipping 1
Total  99 (due to rounding)