- The UK’s emissions were 512 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2022
- This is 7% below the pre-coronavirus pandemic level of 550 million tonnes of CO2e in 2019
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are now lower than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Emissions of world-warming gases amounted to 512 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) in 2022.
This is seven percent below the pre-coronavirus pandemic level of 550 million t CO2e in 2019.
However, statistics show there is still a long way to go to reach the government’s legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Provisional statistics published by the ONS are compiled on a “residence basis”.
UK emissions were 512 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2022, seven per cent below the pre-coronavirus pandemic level of 550 MtCO2e in 2019
This means that greenhouse gas emissions are counted as they relate to UK residents and UK-registered businesses, whether located in the UK or abroad.
Data relating to foreign visitors and foreign companies in the UK is excluded.
The figures show that greenhouse gases rose by two percent between 2021 and 2022, after rising by three percent in 2021.
The pandemic – and the lockdowns imposed in the UK – led to a fall in emissions, particularly in the transport sector.
Since lockdowns were lifted, transport sector emissions have increased by 34 percent in 2022 compared to 2021.
During the pandemic, transport emissions fell by 28 percent in 2020 and fell further by nine percent in 2021.
At 25 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2022, consumer spending remains the largest single driver of UK emissions, with much of this coming from home heating.
The energy sector followed with 16 percent.
Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply since 1990 – by around 67 percent.
The pandemic – and the lockdowns imposed in the UK – led to a fall in emissions, particularly in the transport sector (archive image)
This is largely due to the energy sector’s transition from coal to gas and renewables, which produce less CO2.
Diane Crowe, head of sustainability at Reconomy, a waste and resources company, commented: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to achieving the country’s net zero targets.”
“While it may seem worrying to see two annual increases in emissions, this must be seen in the context of the huge impact of the pandemic on reducing emissions as economic activity came to a near standstill.”
“In fact, emissions are 7 percent lower than before the pandemic as the country, businesses and households continue to take proactive steps to reduce pollution and switch to greener, low-emission forms of energy.”
“We are making progress, but there is still a long way to go.”