UK government data shows emissions fell to 583 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2020 from 670 million tons in 2019.
The 13% drop is significant compares to a 3% drop in the UK’s emissions in the preceding years, between 2018 and 2019. Emissions went up between 2017 and 2018, increasing by 18 million tons
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published data covering the seven main greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, nitrogen trifluoride and sulphur hexafluoride.
The 2020 decrease coincides with the time the country was plunged into lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Data for 2021, 2022 and 2023 are not yet available.
The 2020 decrease was driven by falling emissions in transport by UK residents, goods and services produced in the UK and imported goods. This is likely caused by large proportions of the population isolating at home.
Dustin Benton, policy director at Green Alliance warned that the UK must not become complacent in terms of tackling emissions despite the decrease in 2020.
He said: “We shut down the economy and we stopped people travelling because of Covid, so naturally emissions were always going to fall. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a trend. We shouldn’t be complacent and think that just because there was one very odd but good year from the emissions perspective that we’re on track to net zero.”
The decline in the country’s carbon footprint is a positive step, but the UK is still far off from reaching net zero targets.
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