UK greenhouse gas rise exceeds expectations on 2010 recovery

Final figures published today show overall greenhouse gas emissions increased 3.1 per cent between 2009 and 2010

The UK has been pumping out more greenhouses gases (GHG) than previously thought, according to new government figures confirming emissions rose 3.1 per cent between 2009 and 2010.

The finalised figures unveiled this morning by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reveal that UK homeowners and businesses emitted 590 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2010, compared to 573 million tonnes in 2009.

The statistics show DECC has been slightly underestimating the UK's emissions in recent years. Previous estimates forecast that GHG emissions would rise 2.8 per cent, from a lower level of 566 million tonnes of MtCO2e in 2009, to 582 million tonnes in 2010.

Carbon dioxide emissions, which account for the vast majority of the UK GHGs, were found to be four million tonnes higher in both 2010 and 2009.

The government blamed the increase on the winter of 2010, which was the coldest since 1997, forcing homes and businesses to crank up the heating.

As a result, residential emissions leapt up 13 per cent, reaching their highest level in a decade.

Emissions from the power sector also rose three per cent because more fossil fuel power was required to make up for a reduced nuclear energy capacity in 2010.

Transport emissions showed a slight drop, down by just 0.1 per cent from 2009 to 2010, primarily as a result of rising fuel costs.

However, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey maintained the UK is still on track to meet its long-term carbon reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol

"Emissions were up in 2010 because of the exceptionally cold weather and greater use of fossil fuels," he said.

"One year won't knock the UK off meeting its long term emission reduction targets, but it serves to underline the importance of the Coalition's policies for insulating homes to cut bills and emissions and moving to greener alternative forms of energy."