UK Emissions Timeline Fact
The UK’s emissions were highest in 1991
In 1991, our overall greenhouse gas emissions were 818mt - almost double our current emissions.
Emissions down by 12% from 1990 to 2000
Our total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions went from 809mt to 720mt. This was mostly due to a shift in electricity production towards more gas and renewable energy sources.
The UK’s largest drop in emissions in 2019
From 2005 to 2019, our emissions dropped by almost 35% - that’s nearly 160mt. By transitioning to clean energy production, our coal-related emissions reduced by around 80%.
No more petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030
Our current UK net zero strategy will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars completely in 2030. Instead, the car industry will be made up of hybrid, electric and hydrogen vehicles.
UK net zero target by 2050
By 2050, the UK government plans for our net emissions to be zero. Current projections show that hitting this target will help limit the global temperature rise to 1.5%.
How does commuting by car affect emissions?
What would happen if...
Carry on as normal
Where we are now
Our energy supply contributes 95.8mt of CO2 to the UK's total emissions. That includes everything from heating our houses to Netflix binges.
Where we are going
By 2050, if we continue to switch our energy sources to renewables, we’ll see a 67.1mt decrease in our energy-related emissions. That’s a 70% reduction.
How does our behaviour at home affect emissions?
What happens if we...
Stream as normal
How much can we reduce energy use emissions by?
What would happen if we...
How much can we reduce diet-related emissions by?
Where we are now
The average flight from London to Glasgow produces 137kg of CO2 emissions
Where we are going
By taking the train from London to Glasgow, we only produce 20kg of CO2 emissions. That’s 85% less than the emissions produced from flying.
How does flying affect emissions?
How much can we reduce air emissions by?
How does waste affect emissions?
How much can we reduce waste emissions by?
Find out more about the path to Net Zero
100% meat diet = 2049kgCO2 / year per person = 56 million x 2049kgCO2 = 114.7MtCO2e for the whole UK population
75% meat / 25% veg diet = (75% * 2049) + (25%*1387) = 1537 + 347 = 1884kgCO2 / year per person = 56 million x 1884kgCO2 = 105.5MtCO2e for the whole UK population
50% / 50% veg and meat = (50% * 2049) + (50%*1387) = 1025 + 694 = 1719kgCO2 / year per person = 56 million x 1719kgCO2 = 96.2MtCO2e for the whole UK population
25% meat / 75% veg = (25% * 2049) + (75%*1387) = 512 + 1040 = 1552kgCO2 / year per person = 56 million x 1552kgCO2 = 86.9MtCO2e for the whole UK population
100% veggie = 1387kgCO2 / year per person = 56 million x 1387kgCO2 = 77.7MtCO2e for the whole UK population
Vegan = 1052kgCO2 / year per person = 56 million x 1051.96kgCO2 = 58.9MtCO2e for the whole UK population
2020 population UK: 67.22 million
2020 over 13 years old: 56 million
- If UK’s cars went entirely electric its total carbon emissions would be cut by almost 12%. The UK would emit 54.6 million tonnes less of CO2 into the atmosphere each year – a 12% reduction on the 455MtCO2e emitted in total last year = 400.4MtCO2e. If no one was commuting: it would reduce overall transport figure by 25% or by 30.55MtCO2e per year (Out of 122.2MtCO2e - all means). Assuming that before the pandemic everyone used to commute 5 times a week, if now people were only commuting 3 times a week, emissions from commute would drop by 40%, to 18.33MtCO2e per year. If everyone was driving, knowing that around 68% of people use their car to commute but those produce 80% of the total commuting CO2 emissions, then: (80% x 30.55) / 68 x 100 = 35.94MtCO2e. If everyone was driving to work, CO2 emissions would increase by 17% to 35.94MtCO2e per year.
- Energy - Insulation
- If the UK produced 19.63MtCO2e last year by heating households, perfectly insulated house could reduce residential heating CO2 emission to 1.96MtCO2 or total emissions to (455-17.67) 437MtCO2e. Double glazing would reduce total CO2 emissions by 3.76MtCO2e per year, or reduce UK's total emissions to (455-3.76) = 451MtCO2e. Adjusting the heating would save the UK 1.18 million tonnes of CO2, or reduce UK's total emissions to (455-1.18) 454MtCO2e
- Energy - TV & Streaming
What would be the impact on GHG if a person stopped watching live TV for a year? It would save 82.49kg CO2e per person per year = 2 350 965 tonnes of CO2e. It would save 2.4MtCO2e per year.
Or decreased TV watching by 25% : 62kg CO2e per person per year = 1 763 224 = 1.7MtCO2e per year
Or decreased TV watching by 75% : 21kg CO2e per person per year = 587 742 tonnes of CO2e per year.
GHG impact if the UK population stopped watching subscription video on demand for a year?
It would save 14.6kg CO2e per person per year. It would save 208,780 tonnes of CO2e per year.
Or decreased video on demand by 25% : 10.95kg CO2e per person per year = 156,585 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Or decreased video on demand by 75% : 3.65kg CO2e per person per year = 52,195 tonnes of CO2 per year.
More than 14.3 million homes subscribe to a streaming service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or NOW.
What would be the impact on GHG if everyone stopped watching / listening to the BBC? It would save 0.55MtCO2e, which was approximately 0.1% of UK carbon emissions in 2019.
- Waste & Recycling
What would be the impact on GHG if everyone in the UK was reusing clothes, furnitures and electricals? Increasing re-use could reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by an average 4 million tonnes CO2 eq per year (study from 2011). 32.3 - 4 = 28.3MtCO2e.
What would be the impact on GHG if the UK stopped wasting food? 4.5 million tonnes of food wasted could have been eaten. This ‘edible’ element of household food waste is responsible for 14 million tonnes of CO2e alone. 2019 total waste MtCO2e figures in the UK were: 32.3MtCO2e. 32.3 - 14 = 18.3MtCO2e
What would be the impact on GHG if the UK stopped producing plastic for a year? It would reduce CO2 emissions by 2.5 million metric tons per year.
What would be the impact on GHG if the UK stopped using single use coffee cups for a year? We would save 152,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year.
What would be the impact on GHG if the UK stopped using any single use plastic bags for a year? We would save 17,640 metric tonnes of CO2 per year (that one is contentious since apparently it takes 4 times more energy to produce a paper bag than a plastic bag).
2.5 billion coffee cups being thrown away each year in the UK. 1 in 400 is recycled = 0.25%
This suggests that coffee cups that end up in the UK’s landfill sites produce an annual carbon footprint equivalent to over 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, similar to what 33,300 cars produce in a year [Guardian, 2020]
It found that a typical cup requires 0.58 litres of water to produce and has a carbon footprint equivalent to up to 60.9 grammes of carbon dioxide.
The carbon footprint of plastic (LDPE or PET, poyethylene) is about 6kg CO2 per kg of plastic. A plastic bag has a weight in the range of about 8 g to 60 g depending on size and thickness. For the further calculation, it now depends on which weight for a plastic bag you actually use. A common plastic carrying bag in our household had a weight between 25 g and 40 g.
294 million single use plastic bags sold by main retailers and The carbon footprint of plastic (LDPE or PET, poyethylene) is about 6kg CO2 per kg of plastic. 10g plastic bag = 100 plastic bags for 1kg. 10g plastic bag = 100 plastic bags for 1kg. Therefore, 294 000 000 x 10 = 2 940 000 000 g = 2 940 000kg x 6 = 17 640 000kg of CO2 = 17 640 tonnes of CO2 per year
- Flying & Aviation
Average CO2 emission per passenger for a short haul: 1,250km x 254g of CO2 = 317.5kg of CO2
Average CO2 emission per passenger for a long haul: 4,400km x 195g of CO2 = 858kg of CO2
According to the Campaign for Better Transport, an organisation that strives for all communities to have access to high quality, sustainable transportation, one person’s carbon footprint for a flight between Glasgow and London amounts to approximately 137kg of CO2. But when travelling by train, per capita emissions are nearly seven times lower at around 20kg of CO2.
Waste & Recycling
TV & Streaming