09 October 2023

Emissions from UK residents and businesses rose by 2% in 2022, figures suggest

09 October 2023

Greenhouse gas emissions from British residents and businesses increased by 2% between 2021 and 2022, according to provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The data published on Monday show initial calculations for the amount emitted by UK residents or UK-registered businesses last year, regardless of whether they are in the UK or overseas.

This excludes emissions from foreign visitors and businesses in Britain.

These emissions stood at 512 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MT CO2e) in 2022 – 2% higher than 2021, the provisional data suggests.

It follows a 3% increase in residence-based emissions during 2021 as the UK emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.

Emissions saw a sharp drop as the public were plunged into national lockdowns when the pandemic hit in 2020.

Despite the increase in 2022, the provisional figure is still 7% lower than the pre-Covid level of 550 MT CO2e in 2019, the ONS said.

The sector with the largest increase in UK emissions last year was transport – up 34% in 2022 compared with 2021.

This followed a fall of 28% for the sector in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and a 9% decrease in 2021.

Meanwhile, consumer expenditure stood at 25% of the UK’s total emissions in 2022, making it the largest single contributor, followed by the energy sector at 16%.

In terms of CO2e tonnes emitted per million pounds of UK economic activity, the ONS figures suggest UK residents and businesses emitted 190 tonnes – down from 67% in 1990.

The sector with the highest increase in emissions intensity in 2022 was transport – up 20% from 2021.

The UK is required to report its estimated greenhouse gas emissions on a range of different bases to fulfil a wide range of international agreements as well as for domestic policy-making purposes.

The ONS figures on residence-based emissions are one of three key official measures.

The other two are territorial emissions, published by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), and footprint emissions, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The greenhouse gases included in the atmospheric emissions accounts – which are widely believed to contribute to global warming – are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

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