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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 16:04 GMT
Greenhouse gases rise in UK
Chimney, PA
More harmful gases are in Britain's environment
Britain's commitment to cut the gases blamed by many scientists for warming the planet is looking less convincing after the publication of new figures show carbon pollution is on the increase.

The government puts the small rise in greenhouse gas emissions down to coal burning.

Energy Minister Brian Wilson said the UK faced a "real and tough challenge" to meet its environmental target.

But Friends of the Earth campaigner Roger Higman said the figures showed the "government has not got carbon dioxide emissions under control".

The government must act to tackle these rising emissions now

Friends of the Earth

Britain's target under the international Kyoto Protocol is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% from 1990 levels by 2010.

The country has also set a domestic goal to reduce emissions by 20% from 1990 levels.

The figures released on Thursday, however, showed that while emissions had fallen 6% over the last decade, there was a slight increase in 2000 and 2001.

The government said this was due to colder winters and an increased use of coal for electricity generation.

Renewable energy

The price of less polluting natural gas has soared in recent months.

Mr Wilson said: "For anyone who might have grown complacent, these figures demand that we must do more to address our environmental obligations.

"We met the Rio target to keep greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2000, but this is still not enough."

He added that he hoped the government's commitment to generate 10% of the nation's power from renewable energy within the decade - it is 3% currently - and the start of emissions trading in April would reverse the current upward trend in carbon emissions.

But Friends of the Earth said the government had to urgently review its energy policy to promote the development of renewable energy and halt traffic growth.

"The government has been touting itself as a world leader on climate change action," said Mr Higman.

"If Tony Blair wants to maintain this position at the Earth summit in Johannesburg, the government must act to tackle these rising emissions now."

See also:

14 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
UK faces hard energy choice
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