The United Kingdom saw a small decrease in emissions in 2022, although the transportation and residential sectors continue to be the leading sources of emissions.
According to recent data from the government, there was a slight decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in 2022. However, the residential and transportation sectors continue to be the top sources of emissions.
The amount of CO2 emissions in the UK was equal to 406.2 million tonnes.2
The percentage has decreased by 3.5% compared to 2021 and by 50% compared to 1990.
The main contributors to the issue were homes and transportation, with domestic transportation accounting for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions and homes and product use accounting for 20%. Agriculture, electricity supply, and industry each accounted for 12-14%, while fuel supply and waste accounted for 8% and 4%, respectively. Land use and forestry only contributed 0.2% to greenhouse gas emissions.
Transport emissions within the country increased by 2% compared to the previous year, however, government authorities primarily linked this to a rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there was a notable decline in transport emissions as individuals adhered to stay-at-home measures during lockdowns, and the level of travel has not yet returned to that of pre-2020.
Experts have stated that government policies, like cancelling high-speed rail projects and increasing road construction, as well as not ensuring that train travel is as dependable and cost-effective as driving, will hinder the reduction of emissions to the necessary levels for achieving net zero.
According to government data, there was a 13% decrease in emissions from buildings. This can be attributed to the unusually warm weather, resulting in reduced use of heating, as well as the rising cost of energy causing individuals to limit their consumption.
Professionals stated that due to government actions, it is improbable that this decline will continue, especially since officials plan to eliminate objectives for heat pumps and there is a significant decrease in rates of home insulation.
Doug Parr, the director of policy at Greenpeace UK, stated that while any decrease in emissions is positive, now is not the time to become content. The largest contributors to emissions are still homes and transportation, and their levels are staying stubbornly high. The proposed solutions for addressing these issues are inadequate.
The rate of building insulation has reached its lowest point, but the government appears to be reversing its policies on improving heating. They have also scrapped goals for increasing the use of electric vehicles and allowed false information about them to spread. This is not a time to rejoice, but to recognize the significant amount of work that still needs to be done.
The UK’s independent regulatory body, the Climate Change Committee, has reported that the country is not on pace to meet its UN-mandated target of a 68% decrease in emissions by 2030.
Maya Singer Hobbs, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, stated: “Transportation and housing are still the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, but they are also the sectors where progress can be made most easily. Implementing measures such as promoting active transportation, increasing funding for public transit, introducing electric vehicles, and retrofitting homes with heat pumps and insulation can not only reduce emissions, but also generate employment opportunities and reduce expenses for individuals. The delay in achieving net zero, announced by Rishi Sunak at the end of last year, will have a noticeable impact on slowing our progress.”
Claire Coutinho, the secretary for energy security, stated that the UK has become the first among the top 20 countries to reduce its emissions by half. This is a significant accomplishment, not only because of the magnitude of the achievement, but also because it was done in a practical manner, with the economy growing by 80% and measures taken to protect family finances.
“We have significantly raised our production of renewable electricity, going from a mere 7% in 2010 to almost 50% currently. As we have set some of the most ambitious goals globally, we can take pride in exceeding our carbon budget for the third consecutive time. We remain committed to meeting our targets, while also being practical and considerate of not burdening hard-working families with additional costs.”