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UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Continue Decline

The decline of greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kindom continued in 2015, according to new government statistics, dropping 3.8% compared to the year previous.

The decline of greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kindom continued in 2015, according to new government statistics, dropping 3.8% compared to the year previous.

New national statistics from the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published this week show that emissions from the basket of seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol in the UK were estimated to be 495.7 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) — a decrease of 3.8% on 2014 figures.

The basket of seven greenhouse gas emissions includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride.

The 2015 decrease in emissions was primarily caused by three separate trends. Greenhouse gas emissions in the energy supply sector were down 12.3% to 20.1 MtCO2e, driven primarily by a large decrease in power station emissions due to a change in the fuel mix for electricity generation — specifically, a move away from coal to nuclear and renewable energies. There was also a 2.6% (2.3 MtCO2e) decrease in the business sector, driven by a reduction in emissions from fuels used in the iron and steel sector due to the closure of one of the country’s three integrated steelworks in September, 2015. Finally, there was a 7.1% (1.4 MtCO2e) decrease in the waste management sector, due to decreased emissions from landfilled waste.

The report also extracted the decrease of carbon dioxide, “the most dominant greenhouse gas from the Kyoto ‘basket’ of greenhouse gases,” which accounted for 81% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. The latest figures revealed that carbon dioxide emissions had fallen by around 4.1% on 2014 figures, down to 403.8 million tonnes. The decrease was primarily due to the large decrease in the use of coal for electricity generation.

All of this puts the UK on track to meet its second carbon budget, “with annual 2013-2015 emissions that are each below the annual average emissions level of the budget period” at around 556.4 MtCO2e. Additionally, UK emissions are now 38% below the 1990 base level.

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