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UK carbon emissions were down 10% in 2020

Nick Palmer Senior Writer

BEIS published its provisional 2020 UK greenhouse gas emissions figures on 25 March. In this 'Chart of the week', we consider the significant impact of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns in the UK on carbon emissions last year. Carbon emissions in the UK are provisionally estimated to have fallen by 10.7% in 2020 from 2019, to 326.1Mt, and total greenhouse gas emissions by 8.9% to 414.1mn tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. This is the largest proportional fall in UK greenhouse gas emissions in a single year since this data series began in 1990, larger than the 8.6% fall seen in 2009 during the recession. As shown by Figure 1, emissions dropped particularly during Q220, when carbon emissions fell 24.6% from the same point the year before. This was the period that followed the 23 March nationwide lockdown, when transport emissions dropped 43.9%. The overall fall in 2020 was, BEIS said, primarily due to the large reduction in the use of road transport and the reduction in business activity. Carbon emissions from transport fell 19.6% in 2020, accounting for over half of the overall fall from 2019 and the business sector saw carbon emissions fall by 8.7%. Conversely, carbon emissions from the residential sector increased by 1.8% as more people stayed at home. For a free trial of Energy Spectrum, please contact Richard at r.wetherall@cornwall-insight.com.

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