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  • Writer's pictureThe Climate Coach

Should I look at UK emissions or Global emissions...?

Quite a common question I come across relates different figures for emissions when split down by sectors. For example; "Transport accounts for 14% of emissions" vs "Transport accounts for 24% of emissions". People often get caught up on this and assume that the data must be unreliable and can become sceptical.

In short, refer to both.

My best advice would be to look both as they are both equally as important as one another. Our World in Data helpfully provides an interactive chart where you can view emissions by sector and then filter down by country. Click "Change country" and then either type in "World" or "United Kingdom" or wherever you live.

Alternatively, you can visit Our World In Data to view more details.

You may also be interested in reading about Consumption based emissions to factor in "imported" emissions - e.g. where products consumed in a country and manufactured in another. It may or not surprise you to see the UK performs poorly here because a lot of high emission products we consume are produced elsewhere.

Ok - I'll check it out but bring it to life for me quickly.

If you look at global emissions data - aviation usually comes to about 2% which seems quite low given the scale of it. This may lead you to think - it's not a big issue for you and you should focus on some other areas. However, if you look at UK emissions data specifically, aviation will have a much higher figure - usually around 7%. This is both because our emissions from other areas (e.g. manufacturing) are lower than the global average - thus aviation is a bigger portion of the total, and we take more flights than the global average. If you drill down further and exclude people who don't take any flights (assuming you do take some) - this 7% will be higher still because the 7% includes a large part of the population who do not fly at all.

So in this example, just looking at global emissions you may not see it as top priority. However if you look at UK emissions and take several flights per year - you may find it's one of your biggest source of emissions and thus be a top priority.

If you have any thoughts, feedback or ideas you wish to contribute on this or any other topic covered by The Climate Coach - please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

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