How big is the average briton’s carbon footprint, really types of electricity tariff


The current government’s rolling back of many policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions has been documented and criticised by many, including myself. [1] One of the ways in which the government has defended itself has been by pointing out that UK emissions have fallen considerably since 1990, and therefore that Britain still remains a leader in climate action. gas exchange in the lungs occurs in the But a closer look at the UK’s carbon footprint, and especially the carbon footprint per head of population, casts considerable doubt on that view.

The finalised official figures for the UK’s total carbon emissions for 2014 were published in February this year by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. [2] They show that across all sectors within the country – including changes in ‘carbon sinks’ such as the expansion of forests – the UK emitted 514 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO 2e or Mt for short). [3] A further 73Mt was emitted by international aviation and shipping fuelled from within the UK. [4] Using the official population estimate for 2014, [5] this gives carbon emissions per head of 9.1 tonnes. The equivalent calculation for 1990 gives 14.6t. arkla gas pay bill By this measure, each UK resident has reduced their emissions by on average 38%. electricity hair stand up If we repeat the calculation with the provisional carbon figures for 2015, then the reduction rises to 40%. [6]

But a recent, largely-overlooked report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – the UK government’s advisory body on this issue – helps to put things in a different perspective. [8] This report provides an overview of research comparing ‘production’ emissions and ‘consumption’ emissions. electricity and magnetism connect to form Production emissions are those emitted within a nation’s borders, and are the official way in which emissions are measured (such as those figures above). gas near me now Consumption emissions are allocated on the basis of who is responsible for those emissions. gastroenterology So, for example, if a laptop is made in China but bought and used in the UK, under a consumption-based accounting system, the UK would be responsible for the emissions of manufacture and use, but under a production-based system, only use would be counted as part of the UK total. la gasolina reggaeton explosion Arguably, it is the consumption-based system – more commonly known as the ‘carbon footprint’ – which is most appropriate to use, but it is not because it is significantly more complicated to compile the data.

Importantly, the CCC report pointed out that the UK has markedly increased its net import of energy intensive goods since the early 1990s. electricity reading comprehension It estimated that in 1993 the UK’s emissions would be 35% higher if all the goods used in the UK were manufactured here. By 2010 that figure had jumped to 80%. [9] So, if we use the consumption-based accounting method for the UK, [10] then the average contribution to climate change per head of population increases to 19.5t in 1990 and 15.5t in 2014. The increase in climate impact is shown in the graph below. Not only is the level per head much higher, the percentage reduction between 1990 and 2014 is only about half the official figure.

How did this situation arise? There’s a clue in the current problems in the UK’s steel industry. [12] A closer look at the UK’s carbon statistics shows that, although the UK has made some important steps forward in replacing coal in the electricity sector with lower carbon sources, and in the housing sector through improved efficiency, the gains in the industrial sector have, at least partly, come from shutting down factories and importing goods from abroad instead. This makes our official carbon statistics looks good but does little to help the planet!