2010 DA GHG inventory report published

07 August 2012

The UK Climate Change Act, which received Royal Assent on the 26th November 2008 established new legal requirements to monitor and report UK GHG emission reductions. The Act set a statutory target to reduce emissions of GHGs in the UK by 80% against the 1990 baseline by 2050 with a minimum 34% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to be achieved by 2020. While this Act represents the primary piece of climate change legislation relevant to England, powers to implement measures to deliver reductions in emissions of GHGs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are devolved to the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. Each of the Devolved Administrations (DAs) has developed national climate change legislation or strategies establishing targets for reductions in GHG emissions together with accompanying national climate change policy frameworks.

- The Climate Change (Scotland) Act (2009): Includes an interim target of a 42% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 baseline levels by 2020.  

- The ‘One Wales’ Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the Climate Change Strategy for Wales (2010): Includes annual targets between 2011-2050 with total GHG emissions to be ≥3% lower than the preceding year in areas of devolved competence against baseline levels.

- Northern Ireland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Action Plan (2011): Includes a 2025 target to reduce total GHG emissions by 35% on 1990 baseline levels.

In order to monitor progress towards these policy targets, the Greenhouse Gas Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: 1990-2010 report presents estimates of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventories for the Devolved Administrations (DAs) of the UK. Aether has played a major role in both the compilation of the data and subsequent report writing. Separate GHG emission inventories have been estimated for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the years 1990, 1995 and 1998 to 2010. The GHGs reported are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The base year for the inventory is 1990 for all GHGs with the exception of f-gases (1995 base year applied). The estimates are consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reporting guidelines and the 2010 UK Greenhouse Gas Inventor. In all of the DAs the trend in GHG emissions from the base year to 2010 is negative with GHG emission reductions ranging from 26% below the base year in England to 15% below the base year in Wales and Northern Ireland. With the exception of the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), residential and transport sectors, all of the remaining sectors contributed to GHG emission reductions in all of the DAs – albeit to varying extents.

The energy supply sector represented the largest reduction in GHG emissions from the base year in both England (66,345 kt CO2e) and Northern Ireland (1,364 kt CO2e).  GHG emissions were reduced in this sector by switching from coal-fired to gas-fired combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and large reductions in methane emissions from significantly reduced coal mining activities. The waste management sector accounted for the largest reduction in GHG emissions from the base year in Scotland (4,417 kt CO2e) and were mainly achieved through the introduction of methane capture and oxidation systems within landfill management. In Wales the business sector contributed to their largest GHG emission reduction of 3,523 kt CO2e below the base year, however this trend is not only due to the implementation of abatement measures but also due to industrial decline. Similarly, high levels of GHG reductions in the industrial process sector compared to the base year in England (84%), Scotland (79%) and Northern Ireland (77%) were in part due to the closure of energy intensive production facilities.

The residential sector accounted for increases in GHG emissions above the base year of 14% in England (equivalent to 9,039 kt CO2e) and 2% in Scotland (equivalent to 196 kt CO2e). In contrast, both Wales and particularly Northern Ireland experienced a decline in GHG emissions in this sector over the time period.  Changes in GHG emissions from the transport sector varied from a slight reduction of 1% in England (equivalent to 715 kt CO2e) to a considerable increase of 26% (equivalent to 868 kt CO2e) in Northern Ireland. Despite improvements in the efficiency of transport vehicles in Northern Ireland, the strong growth in transport demand and increased affordability of cars and fuel has resulted in an increase in GHG emissions in this sector. The LULUCF sector accounted for reductions in GHG emissions below the base year of 73% in England to 161% in Scotland. Given that England is a net source of LULUCF emissions, the impact of reducing the size of the source compared to the base year is equivalent to a GHG reduction of 4,339 kt CO2e. In contrast, Scotland is a net sink of LULUCF emissions and has increased the size of the sink compared to the base year resulting in GHG emission reductions of 3,368 kt CO2e. Only in Northern Ireland were GHG emission levels in the LULUCF sector higher than the base year with a slight increase of 55 kt CO2e.       

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