UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by nearly 2% last year, as less coal and gas was burned to generate electricity.
But official figures published on Thursday show that because of increases in 2010 and 2012, the UK’s carbon footprint is still roughly the same as it was in 2009 despite government promises to cut emissions.
The fall in 2013 is likely to provide some relief for ministers ahead of a major UN climate science report next week and a renewed push for an international climate change deal in Paris next year.
Last year’s drop appeared to be largely due to a 9% decrease in coal use and a 7% decrease in gas. The share of energy generated from renewables sources was up, as a series of large offshore windfarms were connected to the grid. Onshore wind power generation was up 36.4%, and offshore wind up by 45.8%.
Emissions were up in the residential sector by 2.6% and 2.9% in business, and remain static for transport.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “We are extremely pleased to see that greenhouse gas emissions are provisionally down and that electricity generation from low carbon sources is at its highest for at least seventeen years. This was due to record levels of renewables generation and higher nuclear availability. We are on track to meet our longer term carbon and renewables targets which will reduce emissions and improve the environment.”
The UK’s emissions have been falling gradually over the last two decades, by around 21% since 1990, as energy efficiency improved and the use of gas power displaced more carbon intensive coal.
The Met Office said the average temperature in 2013 was 8.8C, a fraction below the longterm (1981-2010) average of 8.9C.