UK carbon emissions up 3.1% in 2010 compared to 2009. Aviation 6.4% of UK total (6.9% in 2009). 6.4% in 2005

DECC figures for  UK carbon emissions for 2009 and 2010 show they increased in 2010, largely due to increased in household energy use and more use of gas and coal to produce electricity.  UK international aviation emissions (excluding domestic flights)  were responsible for 31.8 Mt CO2e in 2010, out of the UK total of 495.8 MtCO2e in 2010.  This is 6.4%.  In 2009 it was 6.96% because in 2009 aviation emissions were higher than in 2010 due to the recession, and total UK carbon emissions were a bit lower than in 2010.  Aviation was 6.4% of UK emissions in 2005, so the proportion has remained approximately the same.


The figures from DECC of  UK carbon emissions for all of 2010 are now available at

 This says:

In 2010, UK emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were estimated to be 590.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This was 3.1% higher than the 2009 figure of 572.5 million tonnes. Between 2009 and 2010 the largest increases were experienced in the residential sector, up 15.1% (11.8 MtCO2e), and the energy supply sector, up by 2.8% (5.6 MtCO2e). Emissions from all other sectors were relatively stable, compared to 2009 levels.

• Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for about 84% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. In 2010, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide were estimated to be 495.8 million tonnes (Mt). This was around 3.8% higher than the 2009 figure of 477.8 Mt. 
In 2010, 35% of greenhouse gas emissions were from the energy supply sector, 21% from transport, 15% from both the residential and business sectors and 9% from agriculture.


Chart on Page 2 shows UK greenhouse gas emissions 1990 to 2010: 


On aviation emissions it says:

Emissions from UK-based international aviation and shipping bunkers

Emissions from international aviation and shipping can be estimated from refuelling from bunkers at UK airports and ports, whether by UK or non-UK operators. Under the reporting guidelines agreed by the UNFCCC, these emissions are not included in the UK’s emissions total, but are reported as memo items in national greenhouse gas inventories. Parties to the UNFCCC are required to act to limit or reduce emissions from international services working through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

In 2010, emissions from international aviation fuel use were estimated to be 31.8 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. This was 4.4 per cent lower than the 2009 figure of 33.3 million tonnes. Between 1990 and 2006, these emissions increased by around 130 per cent, although since 2006 they have been steadily falling. Nevertheless, in 2010 these emissions are still more than double the 1990 level. High altitude aviation also has a greenhouse effect over and above that of carbon dioxide alone, but this is not reflected in these estimates.

In 2010, emissions from UK international shipping bunkers were estimated to be 8.8 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. This was 13.3 per cent lower than the 2009 figure of 10.1 million tonnes. Since 1990, emissions from UK shipping bunkers have been highly variable. There was an increase of around 18 per cent between 1990 and 1998, followed by a fall of 48 per cent between 1998 and 2002. Emissions then more than doubled between 2002 and 2008, but have since fallen by 20 per cent, and they are now at the same level as in 1990. It should be noted that UK operators purchase most of their fuel outside the UK.

Considering UK international aviation emissions (excluding domestic flights) these were responsible for 31.8 Mt CO2e in 2010, out of the UK total of 495.8 MtCO2e in 2010.  This is 6.4%.

In 2009 it was 6.96% . (33.3 MtCO2e as a % of 477.8 MtCO2e) – because aviation emissions were higher in 2009 than in 2010 due to the recession, and total UK carbon emissions were a bit lower in 2009.

More details of the DECC figures at

at  2010 final UK greenhouse gas emissions: data tables [filetype:XLS filesize: 3090.5Kb] 


Table 4: Estimated emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by National Communication source category, type of fuel and end-user category, 1970-2010  Million tonnes, as CO2

Year 1970 1980 1990 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Aviation Civil aviation (Domestic, Cruise) 0.3 0.5 0.9 0.9 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.3
Civil aviation (Domestic, Landing and take off) 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.5

 AirportWatch comment:

2010 aviation emissions:

So in 2010 emissions from domestic aviation was 1.8 million tonnes CO2.   The international aviation bunkers contributed 31.8 MtCO2e.  So domestic adds another  0.37%  (1.8 as a % of 478) making at total between UK domestic and international aviaiton of 7%.

2005 aviation emissions:

In 2005, Gillian Merron (Transport Secretary at the time) said in Parliament (link to Hansard 2nd May 2007) that :

“In 2005 aviation represented 6.3 per cent. of UK emissions, calculated as a proportion of emissions in the UK inventory plus emissions from international aviation and shipping departing the UK. Detailed data may be viewed at: ”

The actual figures, from the DECC documents mentioned above are that there were emissions of 2.5 million  tonnes of CO2 from domestic aviation (Table 4) in 2005, and 35.5 MtCO2e from aviation bunker fuels, and the UK total emissions were around 549 MtCO2e, so 35.5 + 2.5 = 38.  38 as a % of 549 is 6.52.  Excluding domestic, it is 6.4%.


Carbon emissions rise despite climate change policies

Greenhouse gas emissions have risen in Britain for the first time in almost a decade despite efforts to tackle climate change.

By , Environment Correspondent (Telegraph)

7th Feb 2012

The latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate change show emissions rose by more than 3 per cent in 2010, the first increase since 2003.

The rise in carbon dioxide and other gases comes despite a swathe of Government policies to cut emissions, such as building wind farms and installing solar panels.

Ed Davey, the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said it was just a blip in the long term goal to halve emissions by 2025.

“One year won’t knock the UK off meeting its long-term emission reduction targets, but it serves to underline the importance of the coalition’s policies for insulating homes to cut bills and emissions and moving to greener alternative forms of energy,” he said.

The rise in emissions was blamed largely on the UK coming out of a recession and the increase in gas use for heating homes in the face of cold weather at the beginning and the end of the year.

Also more coal and gas was used during the year because of nuclear power stations closing down or being used less.

…. and it continues …..