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UK climate change sustainable development indicator: 2007 Greenhouse Gas Emissions, provisional figures

UK climate change sustainable development indicator: 2007 Greenhouse Gas Emissions, provisional figures

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (88/08) issued by The Government News Network on 27 March 2008

Defra today publishes provisional 2007 estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions - headline results

* In 2007, UK emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases(1) covered by the Kyoto Protocol were provisionally estimated to be 639.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent(2). This was 2 per cent lower than the 2006 figure of 652.3 million tonnes.

* Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for about 85 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2006, the latest year for which final results are available. In 2007, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide(3) were provisionally estimated to be 543.7 million tonnes. This was 2 per cent lower than the 2006 figure of 554.5 million tonnes. The decrease resulted from fuel switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation, combined with lower fossil fuel consumption by households and industry.

These results are shown in Table 1 and Figure 1 below. The complete time series since 1990 can be found in Annex A.

Table 1:  Emissions of greenhouse gases
                                           2006       2007(p)    Change
      Total greenhouse gas emissions(1)    652.3       639.4      -2%
      Net CO2 emissions(2)                 554.5       543.7      -2%
      Emissions are in million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent
      (p) 2007 estimates are provisional 

Coverage of emissions reporting

Reporting of greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol is based on emissions in the UK, and those Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man), and Overseas Territories (Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Montserrat) that are party to the UK ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

Reporting of CO2 emissions for the UK only incorporates Crown Dependencies, but excludes Overseas Territories.

Carbon dioxide is reported as total emissions minus total removals of CO2 from the atmosphere by carbon sinks(4). Carbon sinks are incorporated within the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector, which covers afforestation, reforestation, deforestation and forest management. The Kyoto Protocol uses a narrower definition of carbon sinks than that applied for domestic UK CO2 reporting, which therefore results in a slightly different total.

These adjustments mean that the greenhouse gas basket reported for Kyoto differs slightly from the sum of the individual gases as shown.

All the emissions in this statistical release are estimated in accordance with the rules agreed internationally for reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union. They correspond to UK territorial emissions and do not take account of the emissions embedded within the manufactured goods and services which the UK imports. There is currently no internationally agreed method to take account of these so-called 'embedded emissions'.

Basis of the provisional 2007 estimates

Provisional estimates of carbon dioxide emissions are produced by BERR and Defra, based on provisional inland energy consumption statistics which are being published today in BERR's quarterly Energy Trends publication.

Carbon dioxide accounts for the majority of the basket of greenhouse gas emissions (85 per cent in 2006). However, in order to give an indication of what the latest provisional carbon dioxide emissions estimates imply for the basket total, we need to also produce an estimate of emissions of the remaining gases in the basket. This estimate is based on a simple approach which assumes that the trend for these gases will be half way between 'no change' on 2006 and a repeat of the trend indicated by the last 7 years' data (2000-2006).

Finally, in order to establish an estimate of total emissions which is consistent with the Kyoto Protocol definition for the basket as a whole, a further adjustment is made in respect of emissions from Overseas Territories and the narrower definition of carbon sinks used by the Protocol.

These provisional emissions estimates will be subject to revision when the final estimates are published in early 2009; however, they provide an early indication of emissions in the most recent full calendar year. The majority of provisional estimates are within 1 per cent of the final figures.

Further analysis of the provisional 2007 carbon dioxide estimates may be found in the special article in Energy Trends, published today.

UK emissions reduction goals and performance against these goals

The UK has a number of goals, both international and domestic, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These are essentially: the Kyoto Protocol target; the domestic CO2 goal; and the targets outlined in the UK Climate Change Bill.

In reporting emissions reductions against all of these targets, the UK is able to take account of emissions trading through the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Defra reported on performance against these goals in detail in the National Statistics release of 31st January 2008, which covered 2006 UK greenhouse gas emissions final figures. Performance was reported so as to take account of the latest available EU ETS results, also covering the 2006 calendar year. Since these are still the latest available results from the EU ETS, it is not possible to produce a further update showing performance against goals based on the provisional 2007 emissions estimates - we will not be able to do so until the 2007 EU ETS results become available in May 2008.

Future updates to emissions estimates

Final estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions for 2007 will be published as National Statistics around the end of January 2009. These estimates will be based on the UK's National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory for 2007, to be produced for Defra and the Devolved Administrations by AEA Energy & Environment. Other results published today

Also published on the Defra website today is the breakdown of 2006 greenhouse gas emissions by end-user. These results are based on, and consistent with, the breakdown of 2006 emissions by source which was published on 31st January 2008. The end-user breakdown reallocates the emissions by source in accordance with where the end-use occurred. The results shown in this breakdown are based on a number of assumptions, and we would therefore expect them to be subject to a wider margin of error than the breakdown by source.

There was little change in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on an end-user basis between 2005 and 2006. In 2006, total CO2 emissions were 554.5 million tonnes. Ninety per cent of this total was accounted for by three sectors; business, transport and residential, which represented 35 per cent, 28 per cent and 27 per cent of the total respectively. Of these sectors there was an increase of 1.4 per cent in business emissions, from 193.4 million tonnes in 2005 to 196.1 million tonnes in 2006, but little change in residential or transport emissions.

Total methane (CH4) emissions in 2006 were 2339.8 thousand tonnes. Forty one per cent of these emissions were from waste management and 38 per cent from agriculture. Of these major contributing sectors, there was a 1.4 per cent increase in agricultural emissions, from 878 thousand tonnes in 2005 to 890 thousand tonnes in 2006, but little change in emissions from waste management.

Emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) were 123.5 thousand tonnes in 2006, a 3.7 per cent decrease from 2005 levels. Emissions from agriculture, which accounted for 68 per cent of total emissions on an end-user basis in 2006, fell by 4.6 per cent between 2005 and 2006. Emissions from the other major contributing sector, transport, were 19.0 thousand tonnes in 2006 (15 per cent of total emissions), a 2.0 per cent increase on 2005 levels.

A summary of the changes in the end-user breakdown for each gas between 2005 and 2006 can be found in Annex B. This also shows a comparable summary of the breakdown of emissions by source, which was published in January.

The full end-user breakdown, from 1990 to 2006, can be found on the Digest of Environmental Statistics. Please note that the presentation of this breakdown now uses National Communications categories, bringing it into line with other UK Government reporting.

Further Information

Further statistics on greenhouse gas emissions, together with other environmental statistics, can be found on the Digest of Environmental Statistics.

Explanatory notes

(1) The basket of greenhouse gases consists of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride, all of which are weighted by global warming potential (GWP). The GWP for each gas is defined as its warming influence relative to that of carbon dioxide.

(2) Emissions are presented as carbon dioxide equivalent, in line with international reporting and emissions trading protocols.

(3) Carbon dioxide emissions include both emissions and removals from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry.

(4) Carbon sinks are defined by the UNFCCC as "any process, activity or mechanism which removes a greenhouse gas, an aerosol or a precursor of a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere".

Notes for Editors

1. The figures for 1990 to 2006 in this statistics release are from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI), produced for Defra and the Devolved Administrations by AEA Energy & Environment. Additional results will be released as they become available, including a full report published towards the end of the year. For further information on the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory, see the NAEI web site.

2. The climate change indicator is one of the 68 indicators supporting the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy.

3. There are uncertainties associated with all estimates of greenhouse gas emissions. However, although for any given year considerable uncertainties may surround the emissions estimates for a pollutant, it is important to note that trends over time are likely to be much more reliable. It is also important to note that the provisional 2007 estimates are subject to a greater range of uncertainty than the final figures for earlier years. For more information on these uncertainties see the Digest of Environmental Statistics.

4. Further details of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme can be found at the EU ETS section of the Defra website.

A National Statistics publication

National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure they meet customer needs.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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