Industry and transport have pushed carbon dioxide emissions up in Falkirk and West Lothian, making them two of the few areas in the country to see an increase.
A report from the Committee on Climate Change has warned that the UK is in danger of missing legally-binding carbon-reduction targets in five years’ time even if all existing policies are delivered in full.
The latest data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has revealed that carbon dioxide emissions increased by 5.6 per cent in the Falkirk area between 2016 and 2017.
In 2017, around 2.39 million tonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere in Falkirk, up from 2.26 million tonnes the previous year.
Freight and passenger transport accounted for 17 per cent of this – over one per cent higher than a year ago.
The carbon footprint of factories and service sector businesses was nine per cent higher than in 2016.
Meanwhile, transport has pushed carbon dioxide emissions up in West Lothian between 2016 and 2017. CO2 emissions from freight and passenger transport rose by 3.3 per cent between 2016 and 2017 in West Lothian.
That means traffic was responsible for 39.6 per cent of the total amount of carbon dioxide released in the area in 2017. Overall, emissions from transport, both private and for business purposes, slightly increased by 0.4 per cent in the UK over the same period.
Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at the World Wildlife Fund UK, put the increase in emissions from transport down to the greater number of large cars on British roads.
He said: “We’re aping the American market and more drivers are switching to unnecessarily large vehicles with greater carbon emissions. Bigger vehicles tend to be less efficient on fuel use.”
Greg Archer, director of campaign group Transport and Environment UK, said: “The rising CO2 emissions in transport illustrate the huge gap between the aspiration to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and wholly inadequate current policies.
“The Government needs to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to deliver zero emission transport in the next 30 years. As an immediate first step, they should increase tax breaks for electric cars and vans to accelerate their sales.”
The largest portion of CO2 produced in Falkirk, 72 per cent of the total, came from industrial and commercial activities. Households were responsible for a further 11 per cent of the carbon dioxide released – reducing their environmental footprint over the year. The DBEIS said lower coal consumption was responsible for a fall in emissions from domestic premises.
Overall, the UK reduced its carbon emissions by three percent from 2016 to 2017.
Phil MacDonald, analyst for the climate change policy think tank Sandbag, said the UK has made some progress on energy efficiency, particularly through the quick uptake of LED lightning.
He added: “Compared to the continent, our housing stock is coming from a low base.
“There’s a lot more to be done in reducing domestic emissions, and much of it, like loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, pays back in reduced energy bills almost immediately.”
Overall, the UK reduced its carbon emissions by 3.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017.