Responding to the publication of final greenhouse gas emissions statistics for 2009, Energy and Climate Change Secretary The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP said:
“Yes, emissions were down in 2009 but so was the economy so this is no time for back slapping. A low-carbon approach has to be a vital part of kick starting and future proofing our economy, getting us off the oil hook and onto long-term green growth. That’s why we’re wasting no time in reforming the electricity market, setting up the Green Investment Bank, and legislating for the Green Deal.”
Greenhouse gas emissions - headline results
In 2009, UK emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were estimated to be 566.3 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This was 8.7% lower than the 2008 figure of 620.5 million tonnes. Between 2008 and 2009 there were decreases in emissions in all sectors, including 11.0% (24.2 MtCO2e) from the energy supply sector, 11.8% (11.5 MtCO2e) from the business sector, 36.5% (6.0 MtCO2e) from industrial processes, 4.2% (5.4 MtCO2e) from the transport sector, and 5.8% (4.8 MtCO2e) in the residential sector.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for about 84% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2009. In 2009, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide were estimated to be 473.7 million tonnes (Mt). This was around 9.8% lower than the 2008 figure of 525.1 (Mt). There were decreases in emissions of 11.5% (24.1 Mt) from the energy supply sector, 13.1% (11.5 Mt) from the business sector, 4.2% (5.2 Mt) from the transport sector, and 5.9% (4.7 Mt) from the residential sector.
The overall decrease in emissions has primarily resulted from two factors: a significant fall in energy consumption across all sectors, and an increase in the use of nuclear power rather than coal and natural gas for electricity generation. As the UK economy contracted during 2009, this resulted in an overall reduction in demand for electricity, together with lower fossil fuel consumption by businesses and households.
All the sectoral breakdowns included in this statistical release are based on the source of the emissions, as opposed to where the end-user activity occurred. Emissions related to electricity generation are therefore attributed to power stations, the source of these emissions, rather than homes and businesses where electricity is used.