UK first major economy to halve emissions

New official statistics confirm UK has cut emissions by 50% between 1990 and 2022

  • The UK has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% between 1990 and 2022, while growing the economy by nearly 80%
  • UK has over-achieved on the third carbon budget

The UK is the first major economy to halve its emissions – having cut them by 50% between 1990 and 2022, while also growing its economy by 79% - new official statistics released today confirm.  This compares to a 23% reduction in France and no change in the USA between 1990 and 2021.

With renewables now accounting for more than 40% of the country’s electricity – up from just 7% in 2010, this shows the UK is leading the way on cleaner energy.

These reductions are largely due to cutting emissions from energy generation, through the shift away from using coal to using renewables. In 2012, coal provided almost 40% of UK electricity, but later this year, this will be zero.

The UK is over-delivering on its commitment to reduce emissions, having already slashed emissions by 50%. We have also cut emissions faster than any other G7 country over the last decade. This has allowed us to take a more realistic approach while reaching our green targets, to ease the burden on hardworking families.

But work isn’t stopping here - since September alone companies have announced plans for £30 billion of new investment across the energy sector, including to advance green technologies and support green industries of the future.

Not only has the UK cut emissions faster than any other major economy since 1990, but also has some of the most ambitious legally binding targets. We have also set more stretching targets for 2030 than most countries. We plan to cut emissions by 68% by 2030, which is more than the EU, Japan or the United States.

Today’s statistics also confirmed the UK has over-achieved on the third carbon budget – making this the third carbon budget target in a row for which the UK has over-achieved, as it did for the first and second carbon budgets.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said:

"The UK is the first major economy - of the top 20 countries - to halve its emissions. This is an enormous achievement by itself but also because we have done this in a pragmatic way - growing our economy by 80% at the same time and protecting family finances.

"We have also increased our renewables electricity generation from just 7% in 2010 to nearly 50% now.

"With some of the most ambitious targets in the world, we should be proud that we’ve over-achieved on our carbon budget for the third time in a row. We will continue to meet out targets but in a pragmatic way that doesn’t clobber extra costs onto hard working families."

Today’s publication covers greenhouse gas emissions statistics up to 2022, and show total greenhouse gas emissions were 50% lower in 2022 than in 1990. Despite rises in some sectors from 2021 levels, as the UK continued to recover from COVID-19, 2022 saw an overall fall in greenhouse gas emissions in the UK – with a decrease of 3.5% from 2021, and 9.3% lower when compared to 2019, the most recent pre-pandemic year.

These statistics show the UK is making significant progress towards net zero. While statistics from recent years remain impacted by the unprecedented economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the long-term trend shows that UK is rapidly driving down emissions - meeting and exceeding its carbon targets.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
The Rt Hon Claire Coutinho MP