U.K. Emissions in 2010 Up the Most in at Least Two Decades

U.K. greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.84 percent in 2010, the biggest gain in at least two decades, as homes used more heating fuel in a year with record cold.

Preliminary data show output of the six greenhouse gases covered by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol climate protection treaty rose to 582.4 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent from 566.3 million tons in 2009, the U.K. Department for Energy and Climate Change said today in an e-mailed statement. That was the biggest percentage gain in a series starting in 1990.

Emissions from British homes rose 13 percent as they burned more natural gas for heating last year, the department said. The U.K. had its coolest year since 1986, and 2010 ended with the coldest December since at 1910, when record started. Temperatures averaging minus 1 degree Celsius (30 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Met Office, the government weather service.

“Britain is blighted by inefficient and draughty homes,” U.K. Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne said in an e-mailed statement. “We want to help people waste less energy through the Green Deal and install new cleaner technologies to heat their homes,” he said, referring to government plans to incentivize housing insulation.

Last year’s emissions gain exceeded the increase of 2.82 percent in 1996. The data published doesn’t extend beyond 1990, the base year for the Kyoto Protocol. It followed the biggest decline in emissions on record in 2009 as the economic downturn crimped output and production.

Last year’s emissions increase also reflected the closure for maintenance of nuclear plants, forcing utilities to use more fossil-fuels for power generation, the government said.

‘Should be Falling’

“Climate-changing pollution should be falling, not going up,” Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace, the environmental lobby group, said in an e-mailed statement. “What these figures show is that the U.K. is moving in the wrong direction. Politicians can’t blame it on the beginnings of the economic recovery because whilst the economy has grown slowly, carbon emissions have grown faster.”

European Union carbon permits for December rose as much as 1.6 percent today to 17.33 euros ($25) a ton, near the highest price in two years, on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

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