The transport and storage sector’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 9% in 2021 and are now 40% less than they were in 2000, according to a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) report.

The report UK Environmental Accounts: 2023, reveals that the transport & storage sector’s greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 9% in 2021 – the largest decrease of all industry sectors.

In contrast, emissions from energy producers and consumers – primarily from heating homes and travel – rose by 7%.

Consumer emissions are now the single largest cause of carbon pollution in the UK, creating 26% of the entire UK total of greenhouse gas emissions.

Commenting on the findings, David jinks, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, said: "The good news is that the UK is getting greener.

"From a peak 852 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt Co2e) a year in 1991, UK total emissions fell by 41% to just over 502 Mt Co2e in 2021. However, a closer look reveals that some sectors are achieving more significant cuts in their carbon footprint than others.

"The transport and storage sector has made great strides in reducing its emissions. At its worst, in 2005, it created nearly 99 Mt Co2e a year. By 2021, that had fallen by 42%, to 57 Mt Co2e. Freight transport by road has helped play a role in this reduction, falling from a peak of 15 Mt Co2e in 1997 to 13 Mt Co2e today.

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However Jinks warned that the UK cannot rest on its laurels, pointing to energy companies’ emissions, which jumped 7%, from 80 Mt Co2e in 2020 to 86 Mt Co2e in 2021, and consumer emissions, such as heating and travel, also rising 7%, from 125 Mt Co2e in 2020 to 134 Mt Co2e in the same year.

He added: "A sizable proportion of consumers’ emissions are created by travel. Back in pre-Covid 2019, travelling to work, the shops, etc created 69 Mt Co2e. During the lockdown of 2020, that total plummeted 11% to 54 Mt Co2e, before rising back a little, to 59 Mt Co2e, in 2021.

‘Some critics claimed the boom in home deliveries during lockdowns would create a significant increase in pollution, and there was even talk of a new “green” tax on them.

"However, as we’ve seen, overall greenhouse gas emissions from transport and warehouse operations actually fell during this period. That’s down to a mix of greener vehicles, fewer jams as people stopped commuting, and far more successful first-time deliveries, because so many people worked from home.

"Looking in closer detail, there was a slight increase in emissions from postal & courier services, from 1.79 Mt Co2e in 2019 to 1.8 Mt Co2e in 2021. However, this is more than offset by the reduction of 10 Mt Co2e achieved through fewer consumer shopping and work trips."