Statistics released yesterday by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show that emissions of carbon dioxide have risen by 1.25 per cent in the past year, and are now 2.7 per cent higher than when Labour came to power in 1997.
Describing the government’s figures as ‘pathetic’, Director of Friends of the Earth Tony Juniper called again for the government to sign up to binding annual targets for a 3 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. ‘This would force successive governments to put climate change at the core of all their policies and ensure that the UK moves towards a low carbon economy,’ he said.
Although the government is still on track to meet its Kyoto protocol target of a 12.5 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2012, it has admitted that it will fail to meet an interim target of a 20 per cent reduction by 2010. David Miliband, the Secretary of State for the Environment, described the new figures as ‘worrying’. ‘While these figures are provisional, they underline why concerted effort to tackle climate change, both from government and wider society is absolutely critical,’ he said.
The dramatic rise in emissions – at a time when the government claims it is more focussed than ever on reducing energy use – is due to an increased use of coal as a generating fuel, in response to rising natural gas prices. Big power stations responded to the rise in price by burning more coal, which produces more carbon per unit of energy.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist March 2007