Greenhouse gases: Who produces most?
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."
'Mini ice age' coming in next fifteen years, new model of the sun's cycle shows
African wildcat caught on camera riding on the back of rhino in rare footage
Cecil the lion death: Here is how you can actually help lions in the wild
Margaret Atwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'
Rare shark birth photographed for the first time
- 1 Windows 10: man updates PC, wakes up to find porn slideshow on repeat
- 2 The 'world's most beautiful vagina' has been debunked by science
- 3 John Green schools morning show hosts after awkward interview with Cara Delevingne
- 4 Bulletproof armadillo puts Texas man in hospital after shot bounces off hard shell
- 5 Doctors declare war on Jeremy Hunt over weekend working 'myths' amid plan for seven day NHS
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...