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Map reveals the UK areas with the highest carbon dioxide emissions

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 10/21/2021 Sam Tonkin For Mailonline
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Britain's carbon emission hotspots have been revealed in a new interactive map that shows how pollution levels have changed across the country over the past 15 years. 

Overall the UK's CO2 output has fallen by 36 per cent between 2005 and 2019, but the picture varies depending on where you live.

Unsurprisingly, boroughs in the English capital are the biggest offenders, with the City of London, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea all topping the latest list by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Slough had the highest carbon dioxide emissions by area outside London in 2019.  

In England, CO2 emissions have dropped by 36 per cent since 2005, compared with 35 per cent in Scotland, 29 per cent in Wales and 23 per cent in Northern Ireland.

Across the English regions, emissions fell the most in percentage terms in the North East (56 per cent) and the least in the East of England (30 per cent).

Use the interactive map below to see how CO2 emissions in your area have changed between 2005 and 2019:

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THE UK AREAS WITH THE HIGHEST AND LOWEST EMISSIONS IN 2019
Highest emissions Lowest emissions 
1. City of London 1. Argyll and Bute
2. Westminster2. Scottish Borders
3. Kensington & Chelsea 3. Highlands 
4. Tower Hamlets 4. Dumfries and Galloway 
5. Camden 5. Northumberland 
6. Islington 6. Powys 
7. Hammersmith and Fulham 7. Perth and Kinross 
8. Lambeth 8. Na h-Eileanan Siar 
 9. Hackney9. Ceredigion 
 10. Southwark10. Gwynedd 

In Redcar and Cleveland — an area known for large industrial plants, many of which have now closed — CO2 levels have plummeted by 77 per cent over 14 years. 

Northumberland experienced the biggest fall in greenhouse gas emissions, an 82 per cent decrease, but it started from a comparatively low base of less than 1 kilotonnes of CO2 per kilometre squared (kt CO2 per km2). 

In Neath Port Talbot, another area known for heavy industry, emissions fell the least in percentage terms — dropping by just 9 per cent between 2005 and 2019. 

Carbon dioxide contributes to air pollution as part of its role in the greenhouse effect. 

In 2019, CO2 accounted for 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, with the rest including methane (12 per cent), nitrous oxide (5 per cent) and fluorinated gases (3 per cent).


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Out of 379 local authority districts in the UK, the City of London, historically the English capital's financial district, had the highest CO2 emissions in 2019, with 203 kt CO2 per km2. That is down by 61 per cent since 2005.

It was followed by Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Camden, Islington, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Hackney, Southwark, Newham, Wandsworth and Haringey.

Parts of the English capital have previously been found to be in breach of legal limits, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan warning last month the city would be 'sleepwalking to a climate catastrophe and thousands more premature deaths from air pollution every year'.

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Only three other areas were in the top 20 — Slough in the South East (21.3 kt per km2), Manchester in the North West (17.5kt per km2) and Leicester in the East Midlands (16.6kt per km2).

Various changes have contributed to the national fall in CO2 emissions. In the energy sector and in industry, such as manufacturing, there has been a decrease in the use of coal for electricity and an increase in the use of renewable sources.   

Earlier this week the government announced its strategy to hit its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050

As well as clean flights, a shift to electric cars by 2035, and gas boilers out by 2030, there will be a focus on encouraging homeowners to be more environmentally-conscious, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

That could include incentivising mortgage lenders to prioritise properties with better energy ratings.

Use the interactive map below to see how much of your area is covered by woodland:

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Greenhouse gas emissions can also be slashed or offset by removing CO2 from the atmosphere using measures such as planting trees. 

The area in the UK with the highest percentage of woodland cover (excluding inland water) is Neath Port Talbot in South Wales, the ONS analysis revealed, where 39 per cent of land was woodland. 

It had the 23rd highest CO2 emissions by area (per 16 kt CO2 per km2) out of UK local authorities in 2019.

In England, Waverley in Surrey had the highest proportion of its area covered by woodland, with almost 34 per cent. 

The highest in Scotland was Moray, with around 30 per cent, while in Northern Ireland the largest woodland cover was 13 per cent of Fermanagh and Omagh.

The areas with the lowest percentage of land covered by woodland were Shetland (0.04 per cent) and the Orkney Islands (0.2 per cent). 

The UK government has set a target of planting 30,000 hectares of new trees a year — equivalent to an area twice the size of Cardiff — up to 2024.

The latest data from Forest Research shows 13,290 hectares were planted in the year ending 31 March 2021.

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