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The Government is totally failing to meet targets to tackle climate change, Friends of the Earth said today, following publication of new provisional data which shows that carbon dioxide emissions have again increased in 2004. The effect of two big consecutive increases means the UK is now dangerously close to exceeding its Kyoto target for carbon dioxide emissions and way off track in meeting its domestic target of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010.

The increase of 1.5 per cent is as a result from increasing emissions from industry, the domestic sector and transport. The figures will be a huge embarrassment to Tony Blair who has made climate change a priority for 2005 and has called for urgency in tackling the issue. He has said that "Unchecked climate change has the potential to be catastrophic in both human and economic terms".

The UK's legally binding Kyoto target is to reduce emissions of the six greenhouse gases to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12. The UK achieved this in 1999 and has been comfortably below it since, but latest projections now show UK emissions for 2004 are estimated to be only 12.6% below 1990 levels. In 2002 they were 14.4% below 1990 levels.

The Government will now need to introduce a radical new climate change programme to reverse this trend and achieve a 16% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions between now and 2010 to meet both its domestic target.

Mike Childs, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said:

"These further increases in carbon dioxide emissions are shocking. Climate change is happening and has the potential to cause untold human suffering and catastrophic environmental damage. The Government clearly has no control over our emissions and cannot claim to be effectively tackling climate change. Tony Blair needs to get a grip on this issue and oversee a radical reform of the Government's climate change programme that will deliver year on year reductions in carbon dioxide."

Emissions of carbon dioxide increased between 2003 and 2004 by 2.3 Million tons of carbon. This increase is the same amount as the Government is aiming to reduce emissions by each year through its targets of 10 per cent of energy produced by renewable power by 2010. The increase in 2004 is due to increased energy consumption in industry of 4 per cent, the domestic sector 2 per cent and the service sector 1 per cent, plus increases from transport of 2.5 per cent.


[1].The provisional data was released by DEFRA today

[2]. Currently levels are only 4 per cent below 1990 levels and emissions have increased since Labour came to power by 3 per cent.

[3]. The figures for emissions of carbon dioxide since Tony Blair came to power are:

1997 - 153.9 (Million Tonnes C)
1998 - 154.5
1999 - 151.7
2000- 152.8
2001 - 157.4
2002 - 152.7
2003 - 156.1
2004 - 158.4 (provisional)

In 1990 the level was 165.4.

[4] Friends of the Earth recently published a comprehensive report (PDF) outlining what the Government should do to tackle climate change within the UK.

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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust