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UK emissions fall; but agriculture stalls

UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 43% since 1990, despite an ongoing failure to reduce emissions within the agricultural sector.

Provisional government data shows that total UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3% between 2016 and 2017.

Carbon emissions, which account for more than 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions, fell most sharply in the energy supply sector during the past year driven by a switch from coal and gas to renewable sources.

The residential sector saw emissions fall by 4.3% while emissions from the business sector were broadly unchanged in 2017 following a sharp drop between 2010 and 2016.

Decarbonisation efforts in the agriculture sector, however, continue to stall with emissions currently at the same level as in the year 2000.

A report published last year by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) showed that the share of agricultural emissions compared with total UK emissions reached a high of 10% in 2015, reflecting the slow progress in reducing agriculture’s emissions and the faster pace of decarbonisation in other sectors.

The findings prompted the CCC challenged DEFRA to come up with a plan to reduce emissions from the food chain further and faster.

Meanwhile, a new report has challenged the UK government to update climate change legislation to include a ‘net zero’ emissions target to more strongly align it by 2020 with the Paris Agreement.

Researchers at LSE’s Grantham Research Institute argued that in spite of the success of the Climate Change Act, the UK’s legislation should be updated to bring it into line with the Paris Agreement, and to ensure that emissions targets are met.