The UK is well on course to meet the target of returning to 1990 CO2 levels by the year 2000, as current total emissions are 7 per cent below 1990 levels, despite an overall increase of 9 per cent in energy consumption. This was one conclusion from a recent report giving provisional estimates of CO2 emissions for 1998.

The report, published by the government Statistical Service, looks at emissions from power generation and transport, to evaluate whether the UK can meet the commitments given at Kyoto. Other key points from the report are:

  • CO2 emissions from power stations decreased by over a quarter between 1990 and 1998. About half of this decrease was due to less carbon intensive fuels resulting from the switch from coal and oil to gas.

  • There was an increase in power station emissions between 1997 and 1998 due to increased use of coal.

  • Energy consumption accounts for 92 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions.

  • CO2 emissions in 1998 were 1 per cent higher than in 1997, and 7 per cent lower than in 1990.

    The UK has a commitment under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to return CO2 emissions to their 1990 level by the year 2000. The Kyoto agreement in December 1997 commits the UK to an 8 per cent reduction in emissions of a basket of 6 greenhouse gases, including CO2, which accounts for about 80 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the 1990 level.

    The UK is committed to reducing emissions by 12.5 per cent relative to 1990 levels over the period 2008-2012. At the same time, the UK government has a domestic goal of reducing CO2 emissions to 20 per cent below the 1990 level by 2010.