Household transport emissions fell by a QUARTER in 2020

Household transport emissions fell by a QUARTER in 2020 – the biggest drop ever recorded – as commuters ditched the office for working from home during the coronavirus crisis

  • Household transport emissions fell by 24 per cent in 2020 during Covid crisis
  • Household transport emissions fell from 68million tonnes to 52million tonnes
  • That is the biggest drop recorded in transport emissions since at least 1990
  • Total household emissions fell from 148million tonnes to 133million last year
  • Massive reduction was driven by a pandemic increase in working from home 

Household transport emissions fell by almost a quarter in 2020 as commuters ditched the office for working from home during the coronavirus crisis. 

Emissions from personal travel plummeted from 68million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019 to 52million tonnes last year – a 24 per cent reduction. 

The Office for National Statistics said that is ‘by far the greatest drop’ ever recorded since it began tracking household emissions back in 1990.  

Overall household emissions, which includes personal transport and heating, fell from 148million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019 to 133million tonnes in 2020, while total UK emissions dropped from 552million tonnes to 481million tonnes.

The numbers highlight the considerable environmental impact of the pandemic. 

Household transport emissions fell by almost a quarter in 2020 as commuters ditched the office for working from home during the coronavirus crisis

The 10 per cent drop in household emissions is the second biggest reduction since 1990.

Only 2011 saw a bigger fall of 12 per cent which was attributed to it being one of the warmest ever years on record. 

The 15million tonne reduction in household emissions is broadly equivalent to one and a quarter years of pre-pandemic coal use in the UK.    

The CO2 equivalent is a measure of the ‘combined global-warming potential of various greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide as well as carbon dioxide’. 

The ONS said that more people working from home in 2020 resulted in a slight increase in heating emissions but the additional emissions ‘were more than offset by the drop in travel emissions’. 

‘Between 2019 and 2020, household emissions not relating to travel, which are mostly heating emissions, increased 1.5 per cent from 80 million tonnes CO2, equivalent to 81 million tonnes,’ the ONS said. 

The UK’s industrial emissions have been falling in recent years and households have been the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2015. 

Emissions from personal travel plummeted from 68million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019 to 52million tonnes last year – a 24 per cent reduction

The ONS said: ‘Both the energy and manufacturing sectors have reduced emissions significantly over the last decade, while household emissions have remained relatively high. 

‘This has increased interest in reducing household emissions to help cut overall emissions to “net zero” by 2050.’

The ONS numbers suggest the reduction in travel had a significant impact on air quality. 

Particulate matter air pollution ‘fell significantly’ in 2020, with the prevalence of particles of less than 2.5micrometres which pose a serious risk to human health down by six per cent across the UK. 

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