The provisional greenhouse figures for 2012 have just been released by DECC. The figures are disappointing despite what will be a record year for renewable energy production.
Greenhouse gases as a total increased 3.5% year on year over 2011 and Carbon dioxide by 4.5%. Almost every sector increased its emissions. Business, residential and the power sectors by large amounts. The first quarter of 2012 was fairly mild but the 4th quarter was colder than the equivalent one in 2011 so this may explain the increase in the figures for the residential sector.
The big increase in the energy sector can be explained by the big increase in coal fired power production. There was a huge drop in emissions due to natural gas, but a socking 29% increase in emissions due to coal. The power generators have been using the inter-connectors where possible, coal and as little gas as possible. Without record renewable production electricity emissions would have been worse. Other sectors have stood still or dropped slightly. One of these is transport where emissions edged down. People are driving less as this blog has covered before. Its possible a decrease in car travel was undone by a continuing increase in public transport use such as trains (also covered by this blog).
There are some successes, there has been a huge drop due to forestry and land use since 1990 although the last few years have seen increases. Emissions due to agriculture are low but standing still and the public sector has also cut its CO2 as have industrial processes.
So what’s going to happen this year? I was surprised to read that SSE are closing gas fired power stations as well as coal ones. They are not economic to run. The very cold first quarter does not give on confidence that energy use in the residential sector is going to fall. Counterbalanced against this there will be even higher renewable electricity production this year a new record for sure and the closure of a number of coal fired power stations. Perhaps no change year on year?