The “carbon footprint” for the pollution caused by UK consumption has increased slightly, official figures show.
The amount of greenhouse gases linked to goods and services consumed by UK households, including emissions from the foreign manufacture of imported products, rose by 3% between 2012 and 2013, the most recent data shows.
But the figures are almost a fifth (19%) below the peak seen in 2007, when UK consumers were responsible for nearly 1.3bn tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The figures cover imported and domestically produced goods and services consumed in the UK as well as heating homes and fuelling household vehicles with fossil fuels.
The carbon footprint statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reveal the UK’s wider role in the output of emissions which cause climate change, compared with other data which only account for domestically produced greenhouse gases.
Emissions associated with goods and services made outside the UK and imported for use by businesses and consumers make up more than half (55%) of the total carbon footprint for consumption, they reveal.
Some 582m tonnes of greenhouse gases were linked to imports in 2013, up 7% on the previous year but down 22% from the 2007 peak, the figures show.
Emissions linked to imported products from China, where many of the products bought in the UK are now manufactured, also peaked in 2007, but in 2013 were still 112% higher than in 1997.
Greenhouse gases associated with producing goods and services in the UK which were then used in the country were down more than a quarter (26%) in 2013 compared with 1997.
Emissions from heating homes have fallen 8% since 1997 but have been largely static for the last decade, despite household energy efficiency schemes.
Road transport emissions rose between 1997 and 2007 but have fallen back to similar levels seen 20 years ago, the figures show.