Climate change: UK’s transport emissions jump by a third to push up greenhouse gases total for second year in a row

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2022 for the second year running but remain below pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the small rise in the overall total, however, emissions from transport jumped by more than a third.

Provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show emissions measured on a residence basis increased by two per cent in 2022.

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This rise comes following a three per cent rise in 2021, when levels jumped after a drop caused by lockdown restrictions during the Covid outbreak.

Total emissions for 2022 have been estimated at 512 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – seven per cent lower than in 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, when levels stood at 550 million tonnes. 

The four sectors with the biggest impact on climate pollution remain households, energy supply, manufacturing and transport, using the highest levels of fossil fuels.

Consumer expenditure – the stuff we buy – remains the largest single contributor to UK emissions, responsible for 25 per cent of the total in 2022, followed by the energy sector at 16 per cent.

Transport saw the largest increase, coming after a fall of 28 per cent in 2020 during the height of the Covid crisis, and a nine per cent decrease in 2021.

ONS analysis also reveals the changes in the relationship between economic activity and climate pollution.

In 2022, 190 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent were emitted for every £1 million pounds of UK economic activity (gross value added) on a residence basis.

The figure has dropped by 6 per cent since 1990, the baseline year.



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