U.K. Met Kyoto Target, First Carbon Budget, Data Show

The U.K. achieved its first national carbon budget and target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol treaty, according to final data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

British output of the six gases regulated by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol averaged 604.5 megatons a year from 2008 through 2012, the department said today in a report on its website. That’s 22.5 percent less than in 1990, the base year, and compares with a goal of a 12.5 percent cut. Emissions were 36.3 megatons below a five-year cap set by the nation’s first binding carbon budget.

The figures show Britain is complying with international and domestic commitments to fight climate change. The U.K. has pushed for the European Union to apply more ambitious emissions reduction targets as countries craft a new worldwide agreement in 2015 to replace Kyoto from 2020 onwards.

“We have reached an important milestone today: the U.K. has met its first carbon budget, which is the first step in fulfilling our commitment to cut Britain’s emissions by 80 percent to 2050,” Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said in an e-mailed statement.

Britain is charting emissions in a succession of five-year budgets that seek to cut them in half by 2025 and by 80 percent in 2050. The first, from 2008 through 2012, set a cap of 3,018 megatons. Emissions over that period totaled 2,981.7 megatons.

The carbon budget totals are lower than those for the Kyoto Protocol because they don’t include overseas territories such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, party to U.K. ratification of the treaty.

While a 3 percent gain in emissions in 2012 from 2011 is “worrying,” Davey said, it may be due to “higher gas costs that made coal a more attractive fuel for electricity generation and an increase in residential gas use due a very cold winter.”

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