Greenhouse gases: Who produces most?

A A A

Britain's first full survey of household emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for global warming, was published yesterday - and was full of surprises.

The most polluting homes in the country, the study found, were in the local authority area of Uttlesford in Essex, which is based on the charming market towns of Thaxted, Great Dunmow and Saffron Walden, and was once named as the best place to live in England and Wales.

The most polluting town or city, in domestic CO2 terms, was Reading, ahead of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, and the biggest-emitting region - by household - was non-industrialised eastern England.

The survey, commissioned by British Gas from the Cambridge-based consultancy Best Foot Forward, is the first full calculation of the amount of CO2 produced by British dwellings.

It examined all 386 British local authorities, looking at energy consumed in terms of electricity, gas and solid fuel, and converting that to a CO2 equivalent.

The study reports that the energy used by Uttlesford's 70,000 citizens produces an annual average of 8,092 kilos of CO2 per dwelling - equivalent to driving an average car 22,500 miles each year.

That is far ahead of the next worst local authority, which is Teesdale in County Durham, another area of attractive scenery, open spaces and market towns such as Barnard Castle.

The borough of Camden, on the other hand, in inner-city London, was the best-performing local authority, with its households producing an annual average of 3,255 kilos of CO2 each.

Of 23 major conurbations surveyed, Reading was the worst offender, with the average house responsible for 6,189 kilos of CO2 per year - the equivalent of driving 17,200 miles annually or flying 13,000 miles. The best performing city was John Prescott's constituency of Hull with CO2 emissions 40 per cent lower than Reading's, at 4,395 kg per annum.

In regional terms, eastern England was worst, with its households producing 5,968 kg per annum, and the best performer was Greater London, at 5,318.

British Gas said domestic CO2 emission levels were due to a variety of factors, including age and type of housing stock, quality of heating systems, ownership of appliances, occupancy levels, fuel mix and habits of occupants.

One conclusion to draw from the figures, which indicate that areas of relative affluence are the worst performers, is that people who have more money, spend more on energy.

This may, for example, be in the heating and lighting of bigger homes. In Reading, at the heart of the Thames Valley commuter belt, it may well indicate that local people have more electrical appliances than in other places.

"About 25 per cent of UK carbon emission is generated in domestic properties," said Jill Harrison, head of consumer affairs at British Gas. "The difference between the areas of the UK with low domestic CO2 emissions and those producing high emissions is staggering."

Ben Tuxworth, of the green charity, Forum, said: "Downward pressure on prices seems to mean that it's only the less affluent users that bother to save energy. If the rich are using over three times as much energy as the poor, we need to incentivise them to clean up their act."

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal