Archived press release
Press & Media

UK Carbon dioxide emissions rose in the first half of 2006, and are now at their highest level since Labour came to power, Friends of the Earth analysis of new Government energy figures reveals today [1]. UK Government energy consumption figures for the first six months of 2006 are 2.1 per cent higher than the same period last year. And, if this trend is reflected in the second half of the year, carbon dioxide levels will be approximately 4.4 per cent higher than 1997 [2].

The latest evidence of continuing government failure to tackle climate change, despite manifesto promises of significant cuts in carbon dioxide [3], comes as Friends of the Earth revealed that over 400 MPs (404) have now signed an Early Day Motion (a parliamentary petition) calling for a new law requiring annual cuts in UK emissions [4]. The call is also backed by all the main opposition parties. Friends of the Earth, has been calling for a new climate change law through The Big Ask climate campaign [5].

Friends of the Earth's director, Tony Juniper, said:

"It's astonishing that despite all the Government's promises, UK carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, and are higher than when Labour came to power in 1997. There is now a huge cross-party consensus on the need for urgent action. Ministers must get a grip on the problem by introducing a new law requiring annual cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions, as called for by over 400 MPs."

The true figure for UK carbon dioxide emissions is in fact even worse, because government figures do not take into account of the UK's contribution to emissions from international aviation and shipping which, according estimates by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, the UK accounted for 14 MtC in 2004.

Friends of the Earth is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition which launched the 'I Count' campaign last week. 'I Count' is designed to inspire personal and political action and counter the view that climate change is too big a problem to fix. More information at: Members of the public are encouraged to sign up to the campaign at or by texting `I Count' to 84424. They are also urged to attend a mass event at London's Trafalgar Square, on Saturday 4th November, 2006, 1-3pm - on the eve of international climate change talks in Nairobi, Kenya


1. Friends of the Earth calculated the UK's carbon dioxide emissions for the first six months of 2006 from Government data released last week on the quantity of gas, oil and coal burned in the UK in the first six months of 2006. These figures are provided by the DTI at page 39 of Energy Trends (available at (PDF) ), which were press released earlier this month (9 October).

If UK carbon dioxide emissions for the rest of the year continue to be 2.1 per cent higher than 2005, carbon dioxide emissions for 2006 will exceed 156 million tonnes,4.4 per cent higher than when Labour came to power in 1997. This would mean that UK carbon dioxide emissions would be just 3.3 per cent below 1990 levels. When Labour came to power they were 7.4 percent below 1990 levels.

The figures show that use of oil and coal increased, while gas use decreased - but the overall picture was that total energy consumption rose, which combined with the shift towards more carbon intensive fossil fuels has led to a significant increase in emissions of 2.1 per cent. Full details of the calculations are available from Friends of the Earth on request.

2. Emissions figures for each year from 1990. These figures do not include emissions from international aviation and shipping.

1990-2005 figures from ¬

2006 figure is a prediction, assuming 2006 figures remain 2.09% higher than 2005

1990 161.49
1991 163.33
1992 158.71
1993 154.64
1994 152.49
1995 149.91
1996 155.83
1997 149.57
1998 150.04
1999 147.49
2000 149.00
2001 153.13
2002 148.62
2003 151.76
2004 152.48
2005 153.00
2006 156.00 (prediction based on first 6 months of 2006)

3. Labour promised in three General Election manifestoes (1997, 2001 and 2005) to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010. And although they have since conceded this target will not be met, Ministers still claim carbon emissions will be cut by up to 18 per cent by the ends of the decade. But such claims look increasingly unlikely while emissions keep rising.

4. 404 MPs (62 per cent) have now signed EDM 178, calling on the Government to introduce a climate change Bill in the Queen's Speech next month. This is the fourth most heavily signed Early Day Motion in history [5]. The EDM calls on the Government to introduce a new bill "so that annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions of 3 per cent can be delivered".

Last week Environment Secretary, David Miliband, signalled that the Government was considering the introduction of a climate change bill into the next session of Parliament. But gave no details of what this might entail.

A full list of MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 178 - a parliamentary petition supporting a new climate law is at:

5. Friends of the Earth's The Big Ask climate campaign was launched by Radiohead singer Thom Yorke last year. More info:

6. 2001-2: 502 MPs signed an EDM calling on India and Pakistan not to resort tonuclear war
1963-4: 482 MPs signed an EDM on war pensions
2004-5: 456 MPs signed an EDMsupporting theMake Poverty Historycampaign
2005-6: 404 MPs have already signed EDM 178 calling for a new climate law(and there area couple of weeks remaining for more MPs to sign it.)

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust