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Last updated: 24 March 2022

2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the UK: Good News for the Planet

One Step Closer to the Kyoto Protocol

According to the Kyoto Protocol treaty, the United Kingdom needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, nitrogen trifluoride- by 2020.

To recall, greenhouse gases concerns the effect of certain gases to trap the heat in the atmosphere, affecting the global Earth and water temperature.

Nowadays, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the UK is currently meeting its target. Recent statistics have proven this phenomenon. For example, in 2013, emissions of greenhouse gases have decreased by 23.6% compared to 1990. 

This was mainly due to a 15% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector, explained by the change in electricity generation sources. Indeed, a reduction of fossil fuels - coal and natural gas combustion - coupled with an increase of renewable fuels combustion and wind energy, enabled the UK to achieve its energy generation target.

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This general tendency was confirmed in 2014, with an additional decrease of 8.4% of greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to a 9.2% reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is a big success for the government when it was known that in 2013, 82 % of UK greenhouse gas emissions concerns carbon dioxide.

Concerning the residential sector, 2014 has been a good year, compatibilising a decrease of up to 16.6% of natural gas - oil or propane - consumption for space heating and cooking. Therefore, UK households prefer to invest in clean or renewable resources such as wood-pellets boilers, biomass boilers, solar panels, heat pumps and so on.

Apart from 2010 and 2012 when the weather was particularly cold, there has been, since 2004, a downward trend in greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, positive expectations can be forecasted for the upcoming years trend. The Kyoto Protocol stopping in 2020 will thus be honoured.

Statistics comparing the first half of 2015 with the past 25 years (starting in 1990) will be available in July on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website. We will then be able to verify if this trend is persistent or if a new tendency arises.