Figures released last week by the Department of Energy and Climate Change have shown a rise in estimated CO2 emissions for most of the UK’s local authorities since 2009.
The figures show that of the 406 local authorities in the UK, only 12 managed to lower their CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010. The remaining 394 all display a rise in emissions.
The results give a similar pattern by emissions per sector. Between 2009 and 2010, 90% of local authorities saw an increase in emissions in the industrial and commercial sectors, and all authorities reported an increase in the domestic sector, although 232 authorities noted a decrease in emissions from road transport in this period. For 43% of authorities, industrial sources had the highest share of end user emissions.
From 2008 to 2009, emissions for every local authority in the UK actually fell, although this is believed to be largely due to the recession, but are now back on the rise according to new estimates.
DECC says that these figures are based as much as possible on real local data such as electricity and gas consumption. Emissions from energy production (e.g. from refineries and electricity generation) are allocated to where energy is consumed, rather than the source of the energy produced. Other emissions are assigned to local areas based on information regarding traffic, population, employment and household fuel types.
Friends of the Earth has expressed strong concerns regarding emissions in the wake of the new estimates. Senior campaigner Jane Thomas, said: “These figures make for grim reading – building a low-carbon economy and meeting our national carbon budget means all parts of the UK making big emissions cuts, but it looks like we’re going backwards.”
“They are a snapshot of 18 months ago – since then it is unlikely that the situation will have improved. The coalition government’s swinging cuts to council budgets and ditching of regulations has left councils unable to prioritise energy saving and clean energy in their communities and economies.”
Friends of the Earth also argued there was a need for better funding for councils to cut back on CO2 emissions: “The government has to listen to its independent climate advisors – without a requirement for councils to act on carbon, and more funding to help them do it, we probably won’t meet our national carbon budget.
In addition, DECC has made revisions to previous emissions estimates from 2005-2009 to “incorporate new data and improvements in the underlying methodology.” According to DECC, “For some local authorities these revisions have resulted in noticeable changes to the emissions estimates for earlier years.”