Transport emissions in the UK - Statistics & Facts

Since the invention of the steam engine and the ascent of motorized vehicles, human activity has been responsible for an increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The combustion of fuels like oil used as motor fuels is releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the air each year. These gases absorb energy from the sun and emit thermal infrared radiation resulting in an increase in surrounding temperature.

As renewable energy sources have become more prominent in the supply sector and coal has been slowly phased out of the country’s energy mix, the transport sector has overtaken the energy supply sector as the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United Kingdom. This is in spite of efforts by the government to make electric vehicles and other low-emission vehicles more popular, with over 247,000 ultra-low emission vehicles registered in the UK by the third quarter of 2019. Unsurprisingly, passenger cars are still the main source of emissions within the transport sector. In 2018, passenger cars released 68.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This was more than three times the amount emitted by heavy goods vehicles. Most licensed cars had an emissions band between 111 and 150 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

Growing awareness of the dangers of air pollution, particularly in London, is reflected in the share of those who see exhaust fumes from road vehicles as problematic. According to a 2019 survey in England, 61 percent of respondents believed it to be a serious problem, 21 percent of who even saw it as a very serious problem. The same survey also found that the majority of respondents believed people should not be allowed to use their car as much as they like as it causes harm to the environment. By comparison, when asked the same question about plane travel, only 38 percent of respondents thought people should not be allowed to travel by plane as much as they like.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 24 most important statistics relating to "Transport emissions in the UK".

Transport emissions in the UK

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Important key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Transport emissions in the UK" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Vehicle pollution

Public opinion in England

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