Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

UK emissions were lower in 2011 thanks to warmer winter

coal by eutrophication&hypoxia  via flickr

Greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 fell by 7% in the UK following mild winter temperatures, according to new data from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Overall, Europe experienced a decline of greenhouse gases emissions of 3.3% in 2011 – the lowest level reported going back to 1990.

Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, said, “The greenhouse gas emissions cut in 2011 is good news, however, it was largely due to a warmer winter. Nonetheless, the EU is making clear progress towards its emission targets.”

However, coal use has risen by 2%, although fossil fuels generally experienced a decrease. Meanwhile, the use of renewables declined because of lower hydroelectricity production.

There was an increase in consumption of more carbon-intensive fuels such as coal, while hydroelectricity production and gas consumption decreased”, McGlade said.

If Europe is to achieve the transition towards a low-carbon society, it will need sustained investment in technology and innovation.”

The UK was among a number of countries to experience a considerable decrease of greenhouse gases emissions. However, the cold winter experienced in 2012, which resulted in more energy used for heating, significantly affected 2012 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which went up by 4.5%.

The latest national statistics on energy trends and prices released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed that in 2012,  fossil fuels accounted for 85% of the UK’s energy.

Chairman of the Environment Agency Lord Smith told the BBC that the availability of cheap coal poses a serious threats to climate targets.

He said, “There’s lots of talk about a dash for gas but in effect we’re in a dash for coal that’s completely unsustainable. The government must ensure it doesn’t continue.”

Further reading:

Investment likely to suffer as government opts against 2030 renewables target

Energy minister Michael Fallon: legislation will help ‘responsible’ fracking

Global carbon dioxide levels hit highest levels for three million years

UK carbon emissions increased 4.5% in 2012

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