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UK carbon dioxide emissions fall 7.4% in 2016

31 March 2017

The UK Government published provisional 2016 greenhouse gas emissions figures on March 30 showing net emissions of carbon dioxide came to 374.1 million tonnes (Mt), 7.4% lower than the 2015 figure of 403.8 Mt. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for over 81% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions.

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The decrease in emissions was mainly caused by:
*  Reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the energy supply sector, down 18.7% (25.4 MtCO2e) driven by a large decrease in power station emissions due to a change in the fuel mix for electricity generation, with less use of coal (as a result of reduced capacity and conversion of a unit at Drax to biomass) and increased use of gas.
*  A decrease of 10.3%  (7.1 MtCO2e) in the business sector, driven by a reduction in emissions from manufactured solid fuels, following the closure of SSI steelworks at Redcar in September 2015.

Total carbon dioxide emissions on a temperature adjusted basis for 2016 were 378.2 Mt, 1.0% higher than actual emissions. This reflects the fact that temperatures in 2016 were slightly higher than the long term average.

In 2016, an estimated 30% of carbon dioxide emissions were from the energy supply sector, 32% from transport, 16% from business and 18% from the residential sector. This is the first year the energy sector has not been the largest emitter of CO2.

Emissions increased by 4.5% (2.8 Mt) in the residential sector due to an increase in the use of natural gas for space heating, and there was also a small increase of 0.9% in emissions from the transport sector.

Since 1990, UK carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 37%. This decrease has resulted mainly from changes in the mix of fuels being used for electricity generation, including the growth of renewables, together with greater efficiency resulting from improvements in technology and a decline in the relative importance of energy intensive industries.

Overall energy consumption is provisionally estimated to have decreased by around 10% since 1990 (although it increased up to 2001 and has decreased since then). If this figure is adjusted to allow for the effect of temperature, energy consumption has fallen by around 13% between 1990 and 2016.

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