United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Geopolitical Informations

65.22 million (2016)
Total area
243,610 km2

Main legislative bodies

  • Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Latest News

UK stays “committed to dealing with climate change” despite Brexit vote

Around a week after the UK voters’ decision to leave the European Union, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd on Wednesday (June 29) said government’s commitment on climate change and clean energy has not changed. Delivering a speech to the Business & Climate Summit in London, Rudd assured UK will not read more…

UK Government to anticipate the shutdown of wind-farm subsidies

On Thursday (June 18) the UK Government announced its intention to drastically curb public subsidies for onshore wind farms from April 2016, almost one year earlier than expected. Three schemes currently support this sector. Besides the marginal contribution of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) and Feed-in Tariffs, the Renewables Obligation (RO) mainly sustains onshore wind capacity. read more…

The case for fracking in the UK

Even though drilling for shale gas is still in the exploratory phase in the UK, its impact on the country is already being fiercely debated. There are a number of both economic and environmental factors that need to be considered before arriving at a decision. These will be considered in turn. First, on an economic read more…

Climate Policy Facts


Year Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)
1990 739.54 12.92 539.97
1991 747.28 13.01 552.76
1992 725.06 12.59 529.47
1993 707.02 12.25 498.88
1994 695.59 12.02 467.65
1995 678.05 11.69 440.3
1996 690.85 11.88 433.48
1997 662.53 11.36 398.38
1998 660.59 11.29 383.53
1999 651.34 11.1 367.37
2000 652.48 11.08 352.63
2001 660.76 11.18 349.47
2002 640.8 10.79 331.31
2003 648.45 10.87 322.53
2004 645.02 10.75 310.95
2005 638.42 10.57 298.13
2006 639.71 10.52 290.72
2007 626.09 10.21 275.1
2008 614.66 9.95 272.17
2009 565.05 9.08 263.85
2010 582.11 9.28 267.38
2011 543.55 8.59 246.91

The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.



Energy Source Production (ktoe) TPES (ktoe)
Coal 10986.715 30507.898
Oil 53280,109 61641,288
Natural gas 40695,828 70130,423
Nuclear 17989,636 17989,636
Hydro 489,684 489,684
Geothermal 0,788 0,788
Solar thermal 86,947 86,947
Solar photovoltaics 22,274 22,274
Tide, wave, ocean 0 0
Wind 1335,15 1335,15
Biomass 1712,53 2324,551
Biofuels 2162,756 2906,732
Waste 1033,622 1033,622

The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.

The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.

Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.


National Policy


[[ As EU Member State, Germany participates in the collective climate actions and plans for the post-2020 period detailed in EU Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, in advance to the COP21 in Paris. For more details on EU- collective INDC see EU profile (International Policy) ]]

As an EU member state, the UK is committed to 2020 energy targets: 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions, 20% increase in the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable energy and 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency. By 2030 these standards are claimed to rise to 40% greenhouse gas emissions reduction, 27% renewable energy share and 27% energy efficiency increase. The EU long term strategy commits the bloc to achieve an overall emission reduction by 80-95% compared to 1990 levels. In line with the EU regulation, the UK government aims to reduce UK the country’s greenhouse gas emission by at least 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050 through the implementation of the Climate Change Act 2008. To meet this target, the government outlines a series of carbon budgets that restrict greenhouse gas emissions for five year periods. The first three carbon budgets require emissions to be reduced by at least 34% below 1990 levels in 2020 while in the fourth one emissions are set 50% below 1990

In July 2016the new Prime Minister Theresa May closed the Climate Change Department and moved  the responsibility for climate change to a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Climate Change Agreements (2013): a scheme that offers a discount on the Climate Change Levy (tax on energy use by industry, commerce and public sector) to energy-intensive industries so long as they meet the government-agreed energy efficiency improvement targets. Climate change agreements are voluntary and allow energy-intensive sectors to receive up to 90% reductions of the Levy. It is only possible to receive 100% exemption in certain of these energy-intensive sectors.


National Adaptation Programme (2013): this programme sets out what the UK government, businesses and society are doing on climate change adaptation. The document is divided into four major categories: (1) raising awareness about the need for climate change adaptation, (2) increasing resilience to current climate extremes, (3) taking timely action for long-lead time measures and (4) addressing major evidence gaps. See the official National Adaptation Programme document in .pdf.

Adaptation reporting power (2008): The Climate Change Act 2008 gives the UK government the power to ask certain organisations to produce reports on the current and future predicted impacts of climate change on their organisation as well as what they propose to do to adapt to climate change. This applies to organisations that are responsible for essential services and infrastructure, like energy or transport companies. In the first round of reporting (December 2010 to December 2011), more than 100 organisations, mostly from the energy, transport and water sectors, submitted reports. The reports can be found on the UK government website.


Enhanced Capital Allowances (2014): a scheme that allows businesses that invest in specific energy-saving equipment to write off the total cost of the equipment against their taxable profit as a 100% first-year capital allowance.

Green Deal (2013): a scheme that allows householders and business owners to pay for some or all of the cost of energy-efficient building improvements via savings on their energy bills over time. Improvements include insulation, heating, draught-proofing, double glazing and renewable energy generation. With older or difficult-to-treat buildings, implementing the Green Deal is complicated. Therefore additional support is available through the Energy Companies Obligation.

Energy Companies Obligation (ECO): the government spends £1.3 billion every year on the installation of energy efficient measures in low-income households and areas and in difficult-to-treat properties. This initiative works to complement the Green Deal. It is set to run until March 2015.

Renewable Heat Incentive (2011/2014): the government pays participants of the scheme who generate and use renewable energy to heat their buildings. There are two components to this scheme: non-domestic and domestic. The non-domestic incentive was launched in 2011 with payments to industry, business and public sector organisations. The domestic incentive was launched in 2014 with payments to homeowners, private landlords, social landlords and self-builders.

Feed-in Tariffs scheme (2010): this scheme obliges energy suppliers to pay their customers if the customers generate their electricity from renewable energy sources. It is only applicable to businesses, organisations, communities and individuals that generate low-carbon electricity using small-scale systems (less than or equal to 5 megawatts of total installed capacity). The amount the customer is paid depends on the size of their system, technology they install, when the technology was installed it.

Smart Meter Programme (2010): the introduction of electricity and gas meters in buildings that gives occupants real-time information on energy use. This information can be used by the occupants to save money on their energy bills and reduce emissions. The aim is for all homes and small businesses to have smart meters by 2020. Between now and 2020 energy suppliers will be responsible for replacing over 53 million gas and electricity meters.

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (2008): an initiative that requires transport fuel suppliers to ensure that a certain proportion of their sales are provided by a renewable energy source. Suppliers are required to publicly report their carbon savings and sustainable production of biofuels they use. Suppliers also incur a penalty for non-compliance. The obligation affects fuel suppliers who supply at least 450,000 litres of fuel per annum are affected.

Emissions Trading Scheme (2005):  the United Kingdom participates in the ETS – a scheme that limits the amount EU member states’ greenhouse gas emissions and allows them to trade permits to pollute within this limit.  In addition to this, the United Kingdom operates a carbon price floor that applies to fossil fuels used to generate electricity. The tax rate will be £18 per t/CO2 from 2016/2017 to 2019/2020. It aims to combat the low carbon prices that have characterized the ETS since 2008.

Renewables Obligation (2002): this action requires licensed UK electricity suppliers to source a certain proportion of the electricity they supply to their customers from renewable sources. This proportion of energy that must come from renewable sources is set to increase each year. The key target thus far is 15% renewable energy by 2020.


Green Bus Fund (2010): this fund supports bus companies and local authorities in England to buy low carbon buses. The goal is to speed up the introduction of low carbon public transport. £47 million has been invested thus far.

Vehicle Excise Duty (2009): this is a tax that is levied where most UK cars that are driven or parked on public roads in the UK are liable to pay. This tax will be raised for cars purchased after April 2010 with the intention of indicating the environmental implications of purchasing a car to new buyers.

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (2008): an initiative that requires transport fuel suppliers to ensure that a certain proportion of their sales are provided by a renewable energy source. Suppliers are required to publicly report their carbon savings and sustainable production of biofuels they use. Suppliers also incur a penalty for non-compliance. The obligation affects fuel suppliers who supply at least 450,000 litres of fuel per annum are affected.

CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (2007): a mandatory reporting and pricing scheme that aims to improve energy efficiency in large private and public organisations. This scheme is designed to target emissions not already covered by the Climate Change Agreements or the Emissions Trading Scheme.


More information is available through the government’s website.

International Policy

General features

  • Post 2020 action
    • As EU Member State the United Kingdom did submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, in advance to the COP21 in Paris. The EU- collective target in INDCs by the post 2020 period is:
    • 40% emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels

Policy background: The United Kingdom has signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and adopted the Kyoto Protocol. These commitments have largely determined the United Kingdom’s action on international climate policy. Most of the United Kingdom’s action on climate change has taken place since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Kyoto Protocol: The United Kingdom adopted the Kyoto Protocol that obliges them to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (from 1990 levels) by 2050 and help finance developing countries’ search for strategies to limit their own emissions in a way that will not impede their economic development. The latter is achieved through the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation programme.

EU 2020 and 2030 targets: the United Kingdom is must reduce its emissions, increase its share of renewable energy and energy efficiency by a certain amount by 2020 and 2030. For details, see National Policy above.

International Climate Fund: the United Kingdom provided £3.87 billion between April 2011 and March 2015 to this fund to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. More specifically, the government funded programmes to help developing countries fund methods of coping with a changing climate and funding research into the impacts of climate change. The government does not, however, focus only on adaptation. It also invests in clean technologies and deforestation prevention systems.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+): part of the funding that the United Kingdom provides the International Climate Fund is used directly for combatting deforestation. Thus far, this figure amounts to £355 million. The government’s work mostly funds the following projects: Climate Investment Funds’ Forest Investment Programme, Congo Basin Forest Fund, African Development Bank, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and BioCarbon Fund.

Negotiating position

Paris 2015: the United Kingdom is pushing for a legally binding climate change agreement with serious commitments made by the four largest polluters: USA, China, India and EU. It emphasizes the holistic approach that needs to be taken to climate change, including impact on ecosystems. It encourages the involvement of the corporate sector and emphasizes the need for meaningful support for developing countries. The key message that the UK will be taking to the conference is that making our economies green does not have to come at the expense of prosperity and development.

EU: the United Kingdom continues to encourage the continuation of EU leadership on climate and energy policy. As with other international agreements, the United Kingdom asks for legally binding climate change agreements. It is especially insistent on the EU committing to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 target. It even supports tougher commitments of a 50% by 2030.