U.K. Increases Pace of Predicted Cuts in Greenhouse Gases

The U.K. raised the pace of predicted cuts in greenhouse gases, showing it’s making faster progress to reduce harmful heat-trapping emissions.

Europe’s third-biggest economy is projected to reduce emissions by 2.9 million metric tons a year, according to a report Friday on the Department of Energy and Climate Change website. That compares with last year’s prediction of a 2.6 million ton annual reduction. The forecast covers all greenhouse gases except carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping pollutant.

The calculations reflect new policies on transport, forestry and waste management and regulations governing air conditioners that affect greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming. They also incorporate methodological changes that raise the 1990 baseline against which cuts are measured.

“This year there were greenhouse-gas inventory methodological improvements to landfill emission calculations relating to methane formation, flaring treatment, decay rates and landfill gas-engine efficiency,” the department said. “This led to higher emissions and a steeper reduction in emissions.”

Countries are stepping up moves to reduce emissions in an effort to rein in global warming and cap the temperature rise since pre-industrial times to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Britain has met a goal to cut all greenhouse gases, including CO2, by 12.5 percent from 1990 to 2012. It’s also working toward European Union targets of a 20 percent reduction within five years and double that in 2030.

The gases covered by the study are methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride, which combined account for 17 percent of the U.K.’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

Less Impressive?

The latest prediction shows emissions of those gases declining to the equivalent of 71.1 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2035 from a revised baseline of 202.6 million tons in 1990 -- a reduction of 2.9 million tons a year. That compares with last year’s forecast of a cut to 76 million tons in 2030 from the previously calculated 180 million tons in 1990, or 2.6 million tons a year.

The change in pace is less impressive when the most recent emissions levels are taken into account. Friday’s projection represents an annual cut of 1.12 million tons from the 95.8 million tons registered in 2013. That’s only a fraction faster than the 1.11 million-ton annual reduction reflected by last year’s forecast for 2030 levels relative to the 96 million tons registered in 2012.

Changes to the way the data are calculated include different ways of measuring emissions from agriculture and waste and accounting fully for new European Union regulations on fluorinated gases, the department said. The so-called global-warming potential of methane has been raised in the new methodology, indicating the gas causes more warming than previously thought while that for nitrous oxide was lowered.

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