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Rise in greenhouse gas emissions


The UK's greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2010, the first increase since 2003, figures confirmed today.

The final estimates for 2010 showed that greenhouse gas output rose by more than 3%, largely due to an increase in gas use for heating homes in the face of cold weather at the beginning and the end of the year.

Emissions from the residential sector rose by almost 15% from 2009, the statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed.

The rise in emissions was also driven in part by switching away from nuclear to coal and gas for generating electricity.

Carbon emissions, which make up most of the UK's greenhouse gases, rose by almost 4% in 2010.

The increase came after a sharp fall in emissions in 2009 of almost a tenth in the face of the economic downturn, with the result that emissions in 2010 were still well below pre-recession levels.

But green groups said the figures, which are slightly worse than the provisional estimates for 2010 published last year, were a wake-up call for the Government.

Environmentalists called for greater strides in home energy efficiency to reduce emissions and help people deal with rising fuel bills.

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: "If the Government ever needed a wake up call on greenhouse gas emissions here it is.

"In particular it is alarming to see emissions from homes rising when people are struggling to pay their energy bills.

"The Government must ensure that its policies on energy efficiency deliver at scale to reduce emissions and protect consumers."

He added: "The UK's over-reliance on gas has pushed up emissions along with people's energy bills.

"It's a clear sign that the Government needs to back investors in renewable energy and get us off the fossil fuel hook once and for all."

The Government has a number of policies designed to boost renewables and energy efficiency, including the "green deal" which will cover the upfront costs of improving home energy efficiency with money paid back from savings on bills.

But Louise Hutchins from Greenpeace warned that instead of slashing emissions and sparking a "green jobs bonanza", the UK was seeing progress stalling.

"The fact that the latest jump in figures is partly down to the cold snap in 2010 is no excuse, after all Sweden has higher energy costs and colder winters but their bills are lower because they have better insulated homes.

"To copy their success the Government's flagship green deal will need more resources, and that requires greater political ambition."

She said newly-appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey "gets it", but called on him to deliver on the policy.

Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins said: "The rise in fossil fuel use is bad news for the planet and cash-strapped families struggling to cope with the rocketing cost of gas and coal.

"Switching to clean British power and slashing energy waste is the only way to cut fuel bills, reduce emissions and safeguard energy supplies in the future - this must be a top priority for the new Energy Secretary, Ed Davey."