Science

Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions FELL by 2.2% last year thanks to warmer weather, figures show 

The UK managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.2 per cent in 2022 – as Britons used less gas to heat their homes according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS explained that the drop was driven by two factors: homes using less fuel for heating due to higher energy prices and warmer weather, so less heat was required.

Demand for energy fell to a level not seen in 50 years, the ONS added.

2022 was the warmest UK year on record, according to the Met Office, and the overall temperature was 0.8°C warmer than 2021 across the year, the ONS said.

However, adjusted for temperature, the ONS said that emissions were 0.7 per cent higher in 2022 than 2021, but still 5 per cent lower than in 2019.

The UK managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.2 per cent in 2022 – as Britons used less gas to heat their homes according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

2022 was the warmest UK year on record , according to the Met Office, and the overall temperature was 0.8°C warmer than 2021 across the year, the ONS said. Pictured: Britons enjoy hot weather at Bournemouth in August 2022

2022 was the warmest UK year on record , according to the Met Office, and the overall temperature was 0.8°C warmer than 2021 across the year, the ONS said. Pictured: Britons enjoy hot weather at Bournemouth in August 2022

LAST YEAR WAS BRITAIN’S HOTTEST ON RECORD

The UK’s annual average temperature topped 10°C for the first time in 2022, as last year was confirmed as the country’s warmest on record.

The mean temperature across the 12 months was 10.03°C, beating the previous all-time high of 9.88°C in 2014, the Met Office said.

It means 15 of the UK’s top 20 warmest years on record have all occurred this century – with the entire top 10 within the past two decades.

Read more here 

The UK produced greenhouse gases equivalent to 417 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) last year, the provisional figures suggest, down from 650 million tonnes in 1990.

This is a hefty 48 per cent lower than in 1990. 

This drop is mainly due to phasing out of coal power, and its replacement by gas, a decline in energy-intensive industries, and the growth of renewable energy such as wind power, the ONS said.

The results are similar to those from an independent analysis of government data conducted earlier this month, which found that Britain produced 3.4 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions last year.

But there is still a long way to go to reach the government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions down to ‘Net Zero’ by 2050.

The provisional figures do not include emissions from international air travel or shipping, UK overseas territories, imported goods or the burning of biomass for energy.

Transport CO2 emissions increased by 4 per cent because of the increase in road transport and domestic air traffic after COVID-19 lockdowns but were still below the levels seen in the five years before the pandemic.

The UK produced greenhouse gases equivalent to 417 million tonnes of carbon dioxide last year, the provisional figures suggest, down from 650 million tonnes in 1990

The UK produced greenhouse gases equivalent to 417 million tonnes of carbon dioxide last year, the provisional figures suggest, down from 650 million tonnes in 1990

This drop is mainly due to phasing out of coal power, and its replacement by gas, a decline in energy-intensive industries, and the growth of renewable energy such as wind power

This drop is mainly due to phasing out of coal power, and its replacement by gas, a decline in energy-intensive industries, and the growth of renewable energy such as wind power

The lockdowns resulted in an unprecedented decline in energy use in 2020, which then rebounded dramatically in 2021, leading to a six per cent rise in emissions.

This was the only year in the last 10 which accompanied an emissions increase, despite prolonged economic growth in the country.

Despite the local decrease, global carbon dioxide emissions rose to their highest level on record in 2022.

This was largely due to many countries switching back to coal during the global energy crisis, although the global growth in emissions was lower than feared. 

Coal use increased rapidly in the UK from the Industrial Revolution to the mid-1950s, when the introduction of the Clean Air Act led to it being gradually phased out.

There were concerns we may return to the fuel in 2022 thanks to soaring natural gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But these fears were never realised, partially due to a in electricity usage as people left their homes more post-COVID.

The UK's annual average temperature topped 10°C for the first time in 2022, so last year was confirmed as the country's warmest on record.

The UK’s annual average temperature topped 10°C for the first time in 2022, so last year was confirmed as the country’s warmest on record.

Wind power generation hit a record high in the final quarter of 2022, producing 24.6 per cent of the UK's electricity. This was the third time Britain's fleet of wind turbines set new generation records in 2022, after decade-low windspeeds were reported in 2021 (stock image)

Wind power generation hit a record high in the final quarter of 2022, producing 24.6 per cent of the UK’s electricity. This was the third time Britain’s fleet of wind turbines set new generation records in 2022, after decade-low windspeeds were reported in 2021 (stock image)

Renewable energy produced around 40 per cent of the UK’s electricity production last year, up from 35 per cent in 2021, according to an Imperial College study.

Wind power generation hit a record high in the final quarter of 2022, producing 24.6 per cent of the UK’s electricity.

This was the third time Britain’s fleet of wind turbines set new generation records that year, after decade-low windspeeds were reported in 2021.

Wind, solar and hydropower together reached a record high while oil and coal use reached record lows.

UK energy production overall increased slightly from 2021 but was still below 2019 levels.

A Government spokesperson said it was on course to meet its interim target to cut greenhouse gas levels, known as the carbon budget.

‘The UK has hit every carbon budget to date and we have already come a long way to meet that target, cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country and with low-carbon sources like renewables and nuclear providing half of the UK’s electricity generation.’

The ONS explained that the drop was driven by two factors: homes using less fuel for heating due to higher energy prices and warmer weather, so less heat was required. Therefore the fall in emissions was largely driven by a large drop in emissions from the residential sector

The ONS explained that the drop was driven by two factors: homes using less fuel for heating due to higher energy prices and warmer weather, so less heat was required. Therefore the fall in emissions was largely driven by a large drop in emissions from the residential sector

Adjusted for temperature, the ONS said that emissions were 0.7 per cent higher in 2022 than 2021, but still 5 per cent lower than in 2019

Adjusted for temperature, the ONS said that emissions were 0.7 per cent higher in 2022 than 2021, but still 5 per cent lower than in 2019

The Government has committed itself to reducing the UK’s net emissions to zero by 2050 and today published a revised ‘powering up Britain’ strategy.

It comes after after a High Court judge found it failed to develop policies that would bring emissions down in line with its targets.

Around £20 billion has been earmarked for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) with developments planned in the north west and Teeside.

CCUS is a technology designed to capture carbon emissions from power plants, industrial processes and other sources, and store them permanently underground. 

The Climate Change Committee has said CCUS is ‘crucial to the delivery of zero GHG emissions’ and said between 75-175 million tonnes of CO2 will have to be captured to meet the 2050 target.

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said there is space for around 78 billion tonnes of CO2 storage in caverns beneath the North Sea.

He said it could bring ‘billions if not trillions of pounds’ to the UK if it stores other countries’ captured carbon.

CCUS is a technology designed to capture carbon emissions from power plants, industrial processes and other sources, and store them permanently underground

CCUS is a technology designed to capture carbon emissions from power plants, industrial processes and other sources, and store them permanently underground

But scientists and energy experts are not in agreement that investment in CCUS technologies is the best way forward.

This is because separating and storing the carbon dioxide is an energy intensive process in itself, so can reduce the efficiency of power plants .

It could also therefore result in higher energy prices, and work to increase overall emissions rather than reduce them.

The technology is still in its early stages and has yet to be fully scaled up, so it is not known how effective it will be.

There are fears that carbon dioxide will leak out slowly over time, or escape if there is a natural disaster, like an earthquake, or accidental human disturbance.

The long-term effects that the carbon dioxide and the pipelines that transport it may have on the environment are also not yet fully understood.

In addition, critics say that CCUS merely allows for the delay of further investment into renewable energy and reducing energy demand. 

Global carbon dioxide emissions reached a record high in 2022, report shows 

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions last year were higher than in any other year on record dating to 1900, a worrying new report reveals. 

In 2022, emissions of the gas increased by 0.9 per cent, or 321 million tonnes, to reach a new high of 36.8 billion tonnes, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. 

This was largely due to many countries switching back to coal during the global energy crisis, although the global growth in emissions was lower than feared. 

Coal – which is due to be phased out as a power source in the UK from 2024 – accounts for over a third of the world’s total carbon emissions, the report reveals.

Total emissions from coal grew by 1.6 per cent or 243 million tonnes last year to reach a new all-time high of around 15.5 billion tonnes, it says. 

Read more here 

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