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Written Statement - Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Wales in 2010

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John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development


The Greenhouse Gas Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland report, providing data for 2010, were published on 17 July 2012.

The ‘basket’ of six greenhouse gases is measured as follows:

  • Emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are measured against the base year 1990,
  • Emissions of “f-gases”: hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride are measured against the base year 1995.

The key points for Wales for 2010 are:

  • Overall, since the base year (1990/1995), emissions of the basket of greenhouse gases have generally fallen.  In 2010 it was estimated that emissions totalled 46.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, a fall of 15 per cent compared to base year emissions.
  • There was an increase of around 8 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 compared with 2009. This was due to increases in the residential, business and industrial process sectors, which may have been affected by the cold winters, at the start and end of 2010, and an increase in the production of iron and steel. 
  • The main source of emissions continues to be the energy sector which produces around 36 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. In comparison, business is the second biggest source, accounting for 21 per cent of emissions in 2010.
  • Wales has a higher proportion of traded emissions covered by the EU Emissions trading Scheme than the rest of the UK, referred to as the ‘traded’ sector. This reflects the high share of heavy industry and electricity generation in Wales (e.g. emissions from power stations, refineries and integrated iron and steelworks). As a result, 48.4 per cent of the total CO2 emissions in Wales were produced by the ‘non-traded’ sector in 2010.
  • When considering emissions from end users as opposed to energy producers, for example, emissions from power stations are re-allocated to users of electricity. It is estimated that, with exclusion of emissions associated with energy exports, Wales has seen a fall of over 22 per cent since the base year. 
  • Wales has a lesser share of UKs end user emissions compared to the by source estimates, and has achieved higher emission reductions since the base year than the by source inventories indicate.

The largest sources of emissions in Wales in 2010 included electricity production (25% of total GHGs), road transport (12% of total GHGs), residential combustion for heating and cooking (10% of total GHGs), and industrial combustion for heat and electricity in the business sector (7% of total GHGs).  

Emissions from installations participating in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) accounted for 51.6% of total GHG emissions in Wales in 2010; the main contributors to these traded emissions were the Energy Supply sector (of which 92% total emissions are within the EU ETS, including all power stations) and the Business sector (of which, 71% of total sector emissions are in the EU ETS, including all cement kiln emissions and 83% of total iron and steel production emissions).  

Carbon dioxide (CO2) was the most common gas emitted for all National Communication (NC) categories except Agriculture, where methane (CH4) from livestock and nitrous oxide (N2O) from soils, and Waste, where methane from landfills, are the most important gases  

In addition to presenting emissions based on direct emissions from processes or combustion of fuels in Wales, the emissions from the Energy Supply sector can be allocated to the users of the energy to illustrate the share of total emissions attributable to the end-users of energy in the economy; emissions by end-user present a breakdown of emissions on a consumption basis, whereas emissions in the by source inventories present a breakdown of emissions on a production basis.  

The end-user basis allocates emissions from energy supply (electricity, refined petroleum fuels, gas and solid fuel production) to the end-users (residential, transport, agriculture, public and businesses) of the energy supplied

The primary difference in the end-user perspective is the significant increase in emissions attributable to the business, residential, transport and public sectors.  The end-user inventory data illustrate that on an energy consumption basis, the contribution to Wales total emissions in 2010 were: 37% from Business, 19% from the Residential sector and 16% from Transport sources.  Wales is a net exporter of electricity which resulted in slightly lower (-8% of total GHGs) emissions in Wales for end-user (43,372 kt CO2e) compared to By Source (46,639 kt CO2e) estimates for 2010.

Emissions from the Land Use Change and Waste Management sectors were unchanged between the by source and end user inventories, since there are no emissions from energy use allocated to these sources.

The 2010 figures indicate a general downward trend in overall emissions compared to 1990.  It is clear that the UK economic downturn has been a major factor in the steep decline in emissions 2010, as in 2009.

Looking ahead, we will continue to enhance our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Wales and look to ensure that Wales is well-prepared to manage the impacts of climate change.  Our Climate Change Strategy confirms the approach and policies for delivering our commitment to reduce emissions by 3% per year from 2011 in areas of devolved competence, against the baseline of average emissions between 2006 and 2010.

The Strategy sets out the Welsh Government’s commitment to lead action in tackling climate change and we are already making good progress in this area.  But our targets can only be achieved if everyone – government at all levels, people, communities and businesses – all play their part.  This is why we are working across government, with the wider public sector and with businesses and communities to help deliver on this agenda.  It is this partnership approach that will help us to meet the challenging emission reduction targets that the science demands.