UK emissions rose by nearly 5% in 2021

UK greenhouse gas emissions rose by nearly 5%  in 2021 compared with 2020 levels, according to the latest government data.

Last year the UK released the equivalent of 424 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) into the atmosphere last year, according to preliminary government data – equivalent to a rise of 4.7% year on year.

However, compared with 2019, 2021 greenhouse gas emissions were still down by 5.2%.

“This increase in 2021 is primarily due to the increase in the use of road transport as nationwide lockdowns were eased, along with increases in emissions from power stations and the residential sector,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a preliminary report.

Emissions from transport rose by 10% last year, accounting for almost half the overall increase.

Meanwhile those from power stations rose 9.2% as electricity demand grew and the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity grew for the first time since 2012.

The estimates only cover domestic emissions, and exclude emissions from abroad, including from international aviation and shipping, and any emissions in the supply chain of manufactured goods and services imported into the UK.

The levels of global-heating emissions grew as society opened up from the strict lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, and road travel increased.

The UK has a legally-binding target to reach net zero by 2050, which requires substantive cuts to emissions, with carbon offsets reserved for those emissions that cannot be avoided.

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