By Maximilian Clarke

Greenhouse gas emissions in the UK have dropped 5.4% since 2008, though as yet it is not known how much of this is due to the contraction in the UK economy seen during the last recession.

A longer term trend in greenhouse gas intensity has been established, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics’ show, which has dropped consistently over the past 2 decades.

Used as a measure of the overall economy’s efficiency, greenhouse gas intensity charts estimated CO2 output against the output of the UK economy. It shows a gradual decline of 21% since 1990 to 2009, with much of the loss from non-domestic sources, suggesting a slight decline in heavy industry and greater efficiency in existing factories.

The level of greenhouse gas emissions created per unit of output by the UK economy (excluding households) fell 5.4 per cent in 2009, suggesting the fall in emissions was not only driven by the recession. Examining the longer term trend, emissions intensity decreased by 51.3 per cent between 1990 and 2009. This indicates some decoupling, but a degree of caution should be exercised when interpreting this series as the UK was a net importer of goods during this period, and emissions embedded in the production of these goods are not included.


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