Key findings from the report
1. Transport emissions down
Transport emissions have been distorted by the pandemic. Emissions in 2021 were still well down on 2019 levels, but this is entirely due to the travel restrictions. This makes long term progress in transport hard to glean, but electric car registrations are on track. The position in our summary table below is unlikely to be the same next year!
2. Meat and dairy possibly on track
The UK Government's own Climate Change Committee (CCC), whose data we have used extensively in our reports, thinks that reduction in meat and dairy consumption is also on track, although the figures are a bit unclear. We discuss this more in the food section.
3. Home heating is still a car crash!
The UK is keeping up its tradition of doing very badly on heating. Insulation and heat pump installations need to speed up dramatically. There has also been a COVID-affected rise in home heating emissions. This is likely to change this winter as fuel prices impact, tragically, the poorest in our society most acutely.
4. Buying second hand and repairing on the rise
Our own survey data shows significant increases in buying second hand and repairing this year. In theory this should lead to real reductions in consumption of new goods, and feed through to reduced carbon figures in time, though this is not visible in the data yet.
5. Company carbon reporting is moving at pace
Proper reporting of full company emissions rose from 37% to 60% of the companies we surveyed this year. Whilst this is good, there are still critical issues with the quality of some of this reporting and little evidence that emissions reported are moving in the right direction at the right speed. What data we do have, which is old, shows emissions growth which is why the consumer goods sector is marked red.
6. Some possible food waste reductions
Research from WRAP suggests the pandemic also saw short-lived positive changes in household food waste, as people had more time to plan and prepare food. But there are no figures available for this since 2018, so we can’t report on this indicator this time.
7. We're not moving fast enough
Now that transport emissions are retuning to normal, UK consumption emissions reductions as a whole are not on track. This is not really news to anyone involved in climate campaigning and is true of wider UK emissions too.
8. The quality of data needs urgent attention
When we try to answer the climate gap question, we are finding that, in some cases, the best available data is three years old. It is not possible to manage an economy rationally towards urgent climate goals without meaningful and timely performance data. It is instructive to compare the resources the ONS has to produce (say) monthly inflation figures, with those it has for climate impact reports.
Other key management tools - like Home Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings – need urgent attention too, see the heating section.