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Rise in UK carbon emissions casts doubt on green goals

Figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change have shown that carbon emissions increased last year when compared with 2009 levels.

The announcement covers the six greenhouses included in the Kyoto Protocol, provisionally estimated to be 582.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent.

The level of emissions for 2009 was 566.3m tonnes, showing a year-on-year rise of 2.8 per cent.

This increase casts further doubts on the government’s ability to achieve its reduction targets.

Further analysis of individual gases showed that carbon dioxide recorded a rise of 3.8 per cent output last year.

In 2009, this had been 473.7m tonnes - accounting for 84 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions - while the 2010 figure was provisionally estimated to be 491.7m tonnes.

The results show that 13.5 per cent of the increase was attributed to the residential sector.

The reasons for this includes a rise in residential gas use, further increased by switching away from nuclear to coal and gas for electricity generation.

The need to decarbonise the national grid has been cited by various government bodies and the latest results show this in the clearest detail yet.

An increase in emissions of 2.4 per cent was attributed to the business sector, while the transport sector was shown to have remained relatively stable.

The latest figures are particularly disappointing when results for the previous three years are taken into account, which showed a decline in emissions over 2008 and 2009.

Although recent government announcements have detailed increased investment in initiatives including the Green Investment Bank, such funding will not be distributed until 2015 at the earliest.