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UK greenhouse gas emissions fall again

New provisional figures for the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions suggest that 2023 saw a decrease of 5.4% from the 2022 figure, with total greenhouse gas emissions 52.7% lower than they were in 1990.

The main driver of the continuing fall in emissions has been the shift away from using coal for electricity generation towards gas and renewables. 

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Before last year, the lowest level of emissions from electricity generation was in lockdown-affected 2020, but the 2023 figure has dipped below that and is 19.6% below the 2022 level.

Between 1990 and 2023 electricity supply emissions have fallen 78.4%, despite the fact that electricity consumption itself has only fallen 4.2% in that time.

In terms of other sources of GHG emissions, those from the buildings and product sector (primarily the use of gas and other fuels for heating and cooking) are estimated to have fallen 6.2%, year-on-year.

In 2023, domestic transport accounted for 29.1% of all GHG emissions and saw a decrease of 1.4% on 2022 – the first time domestic transport emissions have fallen since 2020. Emissions from domestic transport are estimated be 11.1% lower than in pre-pandemic 2019. 

Domestic transport emissions peaked in 2007, since when they have fallen back to around 1990 levels.

Emissions from residential buildings – primarily the use of natural gas for heating and cooking – are estimated to have fallen by  7.2% compared to 2022 and by 35.1% from the 1990 figure.

Emissions from commercial buildings are provisionally estimated to have decreased by 3.1% compared to 2022 but they are still 2.6% higher than in 1990.

Public sector buildings saw their emissions fall by 4.2% compared to 2022 and are now 49.2% lower than they were in 1990.

Finally, the industry sector emitted 8% less than in 2022 and 66.3% less than in 1990.

Overall, the figures show that the UK has reduced its territorial greenhouse gas emissions by 428 Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent  (MtCO2e) between 1990 and 2023 – more than the combined reductions seen in the USA, Canada, France, Italy and Japan between 1990 and 2021.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: ‘This latest drop in our emissions follows the UK’s achievement in becoming the first major economy to halve its polluting carbon emissions.’

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