Cold weather drives UK emissions up 3.1 percent in 2010

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 07, 2012 7:58 AM
Cold weather drives UK emissions up 3.1 percent in 2010

LONDON (Reuters) - The UK's greenhouse gas output climbed 3.1 percent in 2010 as people used more gas to heat their homes amid colder weather and more nuclear plants were closed for maintenance, according to final government estimates published Tuesday.

The country emitted 590.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent of the six greenhouse gases (GHGs) covered by the Kyoto Protocol, up from 572.5 million tonnes in 2009, said the government report, revising an initial estimate made last year of 582.4 million.

"2010 was, on average, the coldest year since 1987," said the report, which explained that the 16 percent jump in residential emissions was responsible for just over half the total year-on-year increase.

Most of the rest of the increase was due to a greater number of maintenance shutdowns at low-carbon nuclear power plants, which forced utilities to burn more fossils fuels to generate electricity, the report said.

The rise in greenhouse gas discharges between 2009 to 2010 clawed back some of the output loss over the previous year, when total emissions fell 8.7 percent as the UK fell into an economic downturn.

The UK's GHG output has fallen 24 percent since 1990 levels, meaning the country is easily outstripping its Kyoto target to cut emissions by 12.5 percent beneath 1990 levels over 2008-2012.

The UK government has pledged to cancel the vast pool of tradable emission rights, known as Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), generated from exceeding its Kyoto pledge.

(Reporting by Ben Garside)