The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published its final estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions for 2010.

In 2010, UK emissions of greenhouse gasses covered by the Kyoto Protocol were estimated to be 590.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). A rise of 3.1 percent from 2009’s figure.

Emissions of greenhouse gases (MtCO2e)

  2009 2010 Change
Total greenhouse gas emissions 572.5 590.4 +3.1%
Net carbon dioxide emissions 447.8 495.8 +3.8%

Carbon dioxide accounted for about 84 percent of the UK’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. The 4 percent jump in CO2 emissions has mainly been caused by an increase in emissions from the residential sector and the energy supply sector.

Carbon dioxide emissions by source, 1990-2010

Emissions from the residential sector increased by 16 percent, the highest they have been since 2000. DECC believe that such a large increase was almost entirely a result of increased natural gas consumption. As 2010 was, on average, the coldest year since 1987, domestic gas use climbed in response to demand for space heating rising.

The increase in emissions from power stations was attributed to the technical problems experienced at some nuclear power stations. In 2010, due to maintenance outages, there was less nuclear power available for electricity generation, as a result, coal and gas consumption rose. Sizewell B, the UK’s largest nuclear power station, was offline for six months. This contributed to an increase of around 4 percent in emissions from electricity generation between 2009 and 2010.

The results published by DECC show that the UK is in-line with emission reduction targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol target and the UK climate change act.

UK emissions of greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were 23.3 percent lower in 2010 than in the base year (1990), down from 779.9 to 598.1 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent.

UK’s Progress towards meeting emission targets, 1990-2010

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, said: “Emissions were up in 2010 because of the exceptionally cold weather and greater use of fossil fuels. One year won't knock the UK off meeting its long term emission reduction targets, but it serves to underline the importance of the coalition's policies for insulating homes to cut bills and emissions and moving to greener alternative forms of energy.”

On March 29, DECC will publish a further breakdown of 2010 UK emissions by end-user sector and fuel type as well as provisional estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions for 2011 as National Statistics. DECC will also publish Energy Trends, which will include the first estimates of 2011 UK energy consumption.