UK greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2012 - DECC

  • 28 Mar 2013, 12:46
  • Christian Hunt

We already know that  coal power overtook gas last year to become the biggest single source of UK electricity in 2012. Now we know what the consequences were:  official figures out today show the UK's greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.5 per cent in 2012, reversing a longer downward trend.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 At 12.51.08

(All graphs taken from DECC's  statistical release.)

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s  preliminary assessment suggests the 3.5 per cent rise is due "primarily" to a switch from gas to coal for power generation. Coal produced 42.8 per cent of the UK's electricity in 2012. It marks a startling rise since 2011, when coal provided  30 per cent.

In 2011, gas power produced 40 per cent of UK electricity - so in effect, gas and coal swapped places in the space of a year. Generating electricity using gas produces about half the carbon emissions of using coal.

Emissions of carbon dioxide - the primary gas causing climate change - rose from the power sector rose around 5.5% between 2011 and 2012, the figures show. Emissions from transport fell by 0.8 per cent, while residential carbon dioxide emissions rose by 12 per cent. Overall, carbon dioxide emissions specifically rose by around 4.4 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

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Newslinks - 28th March • Public polling, climate sensitivity & emissions from fracking

  • 28 Mar 2013, 10:00
  • Carbon Brief staff

The best energy and climate change poll ever
Polling expert Leo Barasi introduces polling conducted for Carbon Brief which examines public attitudes to climate change and energy policy. The results will be published on the site today and next week.
Carbon Brief 

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Climate policy or economic recovery? Polling shows people want both, and favour investment in green industries
Carbon Brief has done some polling, examining people's attitudes to climate and energy issues. Amongst other results, it found that people believe that the government should be pursuing economic growth alongside addressing climate change, and want investment in green industries.
Carbon Brief

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Climate policy or economic recovery? Polling shows people want both, and favour investment in green industries

  • 28 Mar 2013, 08:00
  • Ros Donald and Christian Hunt

Image: Phil Hollman

When asked whether the government should invest money in climate change or economic growth, the largest group of respondents said they would prefer that it treated both as a priority, according to new polling.  

Polling by Opinium for Carbon Brief suggests that the majority of people believe it is possible for the government to promote economic growth and tackle climate change at the same time. 41 per cent of those asked believed there was no contradiction between the two.  

That's compared to 19 per cent who believe the government should invest money into preventing climate change, even if this means a slower economic recovery. However 31 per cent said the government should be doing everything it can to promote economic growth, even if it means tackling climate change is a lower priority. 

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The best energy and climate change poll ever

  • 28 Mar 2013, 08:00
  • Leo Barasi

Polling expert Leo Barasi introduces our climate polling.  

The great thing about reporting other people's polls is there's always something to complain about.  The question order is  biasing the responses, the weighting's  gone wrong, the answer choices  don't make sense. 

So I was a bit nervous when Carbon Brief asked me to help them design a poll on energy and climate change. Who would I make snide remarks about when I saw the results?

But there was too much still to find out about what the country makes of climate change: I was never going to say no.

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Polling: UK public blames energy companies for higher bills; is split over paying more for climate change and energy security

  • 28 Mar 2013, 08:00
  • Christian Hunt and Ros Donald

Energy bills are going up, and new government analysis which examines why has reignited media attention over the price consumers pay for environmental and social policies. But despite media coverage of 'green taxes' on energy bills over the past two years, new polling indicates people place the blame for rising costs at the door of energy companies.

Polling conducted for Carbon Brief by Opinium indicates 48 per cent of around 2,000 respondents believe the main reason energy bills have gone up over the past few years is that energy companies have raised prices to make bigger profits.

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Green policies will put bills up £280, but bring them down by £450, says DECC

  • 27 Mar 2013, 13:00
  • Robin Webster

New analysis from DECC says that 'green' policies will put consumer energy bills up - and drive them down again. Despite rising energy costs, consumers will be net winners, the government argues,  suggesting its policies will leave consumer bills 11 per cent lower in 2020 than they would have been in a 'world without policy'.

The government estimates that measures designed to increase uptake of renewable power, nuclear and energy efficiency will add £286 to consumer energy bills by 2020. But the analysis also concludes that energy efficiency policies will reduce household consumption of energy, bring bills down again by an average £452 per household.

The figures in today's report differ very little from an earlier analysis released by the government in November 2011, and have been widely reported. We will see a "£286 green tax on energy bills", according to the front page of the Daily Mail today, while the BBC says the government's energy policies will "reduce bill rises". The Telegraph cite the Labour shadow-DECC team, who accuse the government of an "underhand" attempt to mask the impact of their policies.

But what does the report say, in detail?

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Newslinks - 27th March • DECC projects impact of policies on energy bills

  • 27 Mar 2013, 10:00
  • Carbon Brief staff

DECC releases figures for the impact of policies on energy bills

DECC's latest projections of the impact of government policies on energy bills, released today, are widely reported. "Green subsidies will increase our utility bills by £150 a year" is the headline in the Times:

"The five-fold increase in green subsidies, added to rising global gas prices, means that consumers will have to slash their energy consumption by more than a quarter to prevent bills from topping £1,600 by the end of the decade."

DECC argues that its policies will result in a net reduction of energy bills - with energy saving measures compensating for rising green costs. The Telegraph quotes Labour's Caroline Flint, who says this is "a 'shameful' and 'underhand attempt' to mask the real impact of the Government's policies on energy bills."

But in a comment piece for the paper, Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Davey writes "Some people think climate change policies on things like wind farms are what are behind high bills. But they couldn't be more wrong. The biggest single thing driving bills higher is global oil and gas prices."

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Does the Sunday Telegraph’s alternative energy policy add up?

  • 26 Mar 2013, 16:00
  • Robin Webster

In an editorial this week, the  Sunday Telegraph blames the government's "misguided faith in green energy" for the UK's dependence on imported gas. But is it the promotion of renewable energy which has made us dependent on gas? And does abandoning climate targets and embrace indigenous coal and gas offer an easy way out?

Last week's news that a  tanker carrying gas from Qatar had to be rerouted to top up dwindling UK gas supplies appears to have prompted the editorial. The newspaper argues that UK renewable energy and climate mitigation policies have harmed the country's ability to produce energy at home - from coal and gas. The result, the paper says, is that the UK is overly  dependent on foreign gas supplies from Russia and the Middle East, and too exposed to market fluctuations.

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Asia going low carbon faster than Europe, report says

  • 26 Mar 2013, 12:30
  • Alex Kirby

Pablo H Creative Commons

Producing more goods and services while emitting less carbon is the dream of many economists. In the race to see which countries can best manage to do this, East Asia is stealing a march on the US and Europe. And contrary to popular conceptions, China is now making faster progress than Germany and the United Kingdom towards competitiveness in tomorrow's low-carbon world.

When it comes to prowess in moving towards a low-carbon economy, some countries in Asia are increasingly outpacing Europe and the United States, a new report shows.

Three of the top G20 countries best placed to compete in the global low-carbon economy are now from East Asia, having overtaken their European and American competitors, according to an index which measures how carbon-competitive countries are.

The report, the Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index, published by the Climate Institute, was first released in 2009. This year's edition relies on data from 2010.

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Newslinks - 26th March • Arctic-like weather, climate proofing & Pacific fisheries

  • 26 Mar 2013, 09:30
  • Carbon Brief staff

Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss
A new study suggests the loss of Arctic sea ice means more heat is being absorbed by the oceans, in turn shifting the position of the jet stream to bring cold wintry weather to the UK.
The Guardian 

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China improves low-carbon competitiveness
France tops the rankings from think tank Climate Institute which show the low-carbon competitiveness of G20 countries. Japan, China and South Korea came second, third and fourth, with the UK coming in fifth place.
Financial Times

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