Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Feed-in tariffs are disappointing for local renewable energy

The government's feed-in tariff plans keep Britain far behind Europe on renewables, and panders to big energy companies

Simon Hughes, Tuesday 2 February 2010 11.11 GMT

Today, after many months of delay, the government finally announced its detailed plans for the feed-in tariff. It is a huge disappointment for all of us who want to see communities taking control of their energy production.
The announcement could have heralded a new age in British energy policy, where a large proportion of our energy is produced by individuals and communities through microgeneration, solar panels on the roofs of our schools and homes, small scale hydropower and wind.
It is an approach that has had success in many countries around Europe, where feed-in tariffs have played a fundamental role in promoting renewable energy. In Germany, where feed-in tariffs have been around for years, the total installed solar capacity is around 200 times that of the UK. The Netherlands has 40% of its electricity demand met from decentralised energy.
In every election that Labour has fought since 1997 there has been a renewed commitment to renewable energy, but today renewables still only produce 5% of our power. The European average is 14%. This performance means that the UK comes 25th out of 27 EU countries in the proportion of its energy supplied from renewable sources – behind Malta and Luxembourg.
Given all of this it seems unbelievable that the government did not take the opportunity to announce a more ambitious scheme today. The government's energy cash back scheme aims for only 2% of our energy to be met from microgeneration by 2020. A more generous tariff could have raised this target to 6%. This does not sound much but it is the equivalent of two nuclear power stations of the capacity of Sizewell B.
Raising the target to 6% would cost the consumer just 10 pence more on their monthly energy bills. An YouGov poll conducted just last week showed that it would be overwhelmingly a popular charge.
The increase in cost to the consumer compares well when we consider the £17 each year which each household will pay for the government's CCS levy and the £20-40 per year which EDF has calculated would be required to incentivise the new generation of nuclear reactors.
Today's announcement has made clear that Labour has no room in their plans for small-scale, community-led energy production. This is sure to win them more friends amongst the big six energy companies. Last year it was reported that E.ON and EDF had told the government that they must choose between new nuclear and the large scale development of renewables.
Labour have made their choice. The government's position is that it would rather have a generation of new nuclear power plants, pushed through without any democratic oversight by the new planning commission. These will blight the country for centuries to come and cost future generations billions in clean up.
It is a choice that Liberal Democrats wholeheartedly disagree with, as it removes choice from local communities. For years we have campaigned for more power to be devolved to a local level. In energy policy we want a future where communities and individuals are supported in producing their own clean and green renewable energy and for them to make their own choices about how they do this.
This is why we campaigned for the original amendment to the 2008 Energy Act that introduced the feed-in tariff. It is why I wrote to Ed Miliband just last week asking him to announce a more ambitious scheme today.
It is disappointing that the government has failed to fulfil the opportunity which feed-in tariffs presented. Now all of us who want an energy future that involves a serious commitment to renewables need to speak loudly and seek to persuade others to vote for candidates who share this vision in the coming election.
• Simon Hughes MP is the Liberal Democrats' environment spokesperson.

Brazil to build controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in Amazon rainforest

Environmentalists and tribal leaders oppose massive flooding, while Brazil minister states 'not a single Indian will be displaced'

Tom Phillips, Tuesday 2 February 2010 16.22 GMT
The Brazilian government has given the green light to the construction of a controversial hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest that environmentalists and indigenous activists claim will displace indigenous tribes and further damage the Amazon basin.
Brazil's environment ministry granted the Belo Monte dam project an environmental licence late on Monday paving the way for tenders from companies interested in constructing the world's third largest hydroelectric plant, on the Amazon's Xingu river.
According to the Brazilian energy ministry the dam, expected to start production in 2015, will cost around R$20bn (£6.8bn) and will eventually produce around 11,000 GW of electricity.
But environmentalists and indigenous leaders have strongly apposed the plans, which the government admits would see around 500 sq km of land flooded and activists believe would see thousands displaced.
"We want to make sure that Belo Monte does not destroy the ecosystems and the biodiversity that we have taken care of for millennia," Megaron Tuxucumarrae, a leader of the Kayapo Indians said. "We are opposed to dams on the Xingu and will fight to protect our river."
The proposed construction of the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon state of Para is part of a major government investment drive to help the country keep up with soaring energy demand from a rapidly expanding economy, while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Hydroelectric power produces no direct carbon dioxide.
Brazil's environment minister Carlos Minc said the winning company would be forced to spend around $800m (£501m) offsetting the environmental damage caused by the project.
"There is not going to be an environmental disaster," he told Brazilian television.
Minc denied Indians would be forced from their traditional lands by the dam. "Not a single Indian will be displaced. They will be indirectly affected, but they will not have to leave indigenous lands," he said.
Roberto Messias, head of Brazil's environmental agency Ibama, said that around 12,000 people were likely to be affected by the construction but that many of them currently lived in wooden riverside shacks and were likely to benefit from the dam's constructions.
"Our studies show that today the population does not have adequate sanitation or healthcare. The conditions outlined in the licence are designed so that the local population have a superior quality of life … at the end of the construction," he said, according to the Amazon paper Diario do Para.
Plans to build hydroelectric dams on the Xingu river have existed since the 1970s but have repeatedly failed to materialise, partly as a result of fierce pressure from environmental groups and activists, including the musician Sting.

Solar panels and other renewables will be installed on one in ten homes

Families can earn £900 a year by installing solar panels on their roofs as part of a new Government scheme to pay people to generate their own electricity.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 7:00AM GMT 02 Feb 2010

Under the deal, which will start from April this year, households will be paid for electricity fed into the grid from renewable technologies such as solar, wind or energy from waste.
The most attractive rate of return will be on solar panels, which for an average sized three bedroom home could earn households £25,000 over 25 years.

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said he expected that one in 10 homes will have installed renewable power on their homes in the next decade. He pointed out that the payments would be tax-free and a return of up to 9 per cent annually was better than any bank could provide.
However campaigners said the scheme, that will add around £11 on the average household bill by 2020 as electricity companies recoup the costs from everyone, is just another “green tax”.
Landowners, farmers and environmental groups said the rates have not been set high enough to encourage a green energy revolution.
The deal, called feed-in tariffs, will ensure that any households or building that invest in installing renewable electricity, should be paid a good rate of return. People who currently have solar panels must do a deal with their electricity company. The panels cannot provide a home’s entire energy needs as they only work in daylight and the energy they generate cannot be stored. When they are generating electricity, any surplus goes straight into the national grid.
Mr Miliband said he expected the number of people with solar panels alone to increase from 10,000 today to 700,000 by 2020.
“The guarantee of getting an income on top of saving on energy bills will be an incentive to householders and communities wanting to make the move to low carbon living," he said.
“The feed-in tariff will change the way householders and communities think about their future energy needs, making the payback for investment far shorter than in the past.
“It will also change the outlook for a range of industries, in particular those in the business of producing and installing small scale low carbon technology.”
Solar panels get the best rate of return under the feed-in tariff, followed by wind turbines and hydroelectric.
Installing solar panels, which cover a space of around 10ft x 10ft on an average sized roof, will cost around £12,500 but this will be paid back in10 years because the households will be paid £900 per annum, plus making £140 savings on the yearly electricity bill.
Previously, the government had intended that the most households could earn was £720 a year but has now increased that to make it more attractive.
A medium sized wind turbine, that costs around £4,500 to install, will earn a household about £400 each year.
Mr Miliband also introduced a renewable heat incentive that will pay households for producing their own heat from woodchip boilers or an air source heat pump. A ground source heat pump, that costs more than £1,000 to put in, could be rewarded with £1,000 a year and lead to savings of £200 per year if used instead of oil.
John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, welcomed the scheme but said rates are still too low for communities to invest in expensive long term schemes like hydro electric on rivers or larger turbines.
“For many families, generating their own clean electricity will be an attractive investment,” he said. “However, the level of ambition set by the government’s Feed-in Tariff is still far too low if we are to reach the full potential of small scale renewables.”
Landowners and farmers are angry that the Government has set the rate for energy generated from waste or anaerobic digestion, that could be installed on many farms, so low.
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said it was “yet another green tax on energy which will punish ordinary families when they can least afford it”.
“Energy bills are already very high, and the last thing people need is yet another levy added on top of their existing costs. Effectively this scheme taxes less well off families, and gives their money to people who are rich enough to afford windmills and solar panels on their houses. People are sick of the Government using green taxes to punish behaviour that most people cannot avoid,” he said.

£9m grants to develop wave and tidal projects

Published Date: 03 February 2010
SCOTLAND's marine energy sector has been awarded £9 million in public funding to develop wave and tidal devices.
Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power was awarded £5.1m to support the manufacture of its second generation Oyster wave energy device.Norwegian tidal power developer Hammerfest Strøm's UK subsidiary, which is working with ScottishPower Renewables, also received a £3.9m grant.The grants were made by the UK government's Marine Renewables Proving Fund, which is managed by the Carbon Trust.Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power's first Oyster device is currently undergoing sea trials at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. The Oyster 2 will be manufactured later this year before testing is expected to start in 2011.Aquamarine, whose backers include Scottish & Southern Energy and Scottish Enterprise, earlier this week named renewables industry veteran Richard Round as its first chief financial officer. Last September the company raised £10m in first-round funding.Hammerfest Strøm UK also expects to have its one-megawatt (MW) tidal power device operating at EMEC by 2011. Design and pre-engineering have already been completed and the firm is currently tendering for fabrication and installation work. The company will work with ScottishPower Renewables which plans to install the device as part of a 10MW tidal power array in the Sound of Islay by 2012. The project will be the largest demonstration tidal power project in the world

'Perfect' time for renewables sector to thrive

Published Date: 03 February 2010
A "PERFECT storm" of events is coming together to create ideal conditions for the renewables industry to flourish in Scotland, industry leaders were told.
William Roe, the chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said yesterday that the development of green energy presents an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime.Mr Roe was speaking at a event in Inverness attended by leading players in the supply chain and the Crown Estate.He said the development of an onshore wind industry had been dominated by other countries, notably Denmark, but the most immediate opportunity was in offshore wind.Wave and tidal energy hold out great prospects, with the Highlands and Islands hopeful of capturing a share of the market with development of the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney and the potential of waters around the west coast, Orkney and Shetland.

Phil Jones, scientist in climate data row, promises to be more open

Ben Webster, Environment Editor

The scientist at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails has admitted that he and his colleagues need to be more open with their data.
Professor Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia, has been accused of blocking requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act.
He said: “We are facing more and more public scrutiny and any future work we do is going to have much greater scrutiny by our peers and by the public. We do need to make more of the data available, I fully accept that.
“We need to work differently, making more data available and making our assumptions clear. Everything needs to be more and more open and we will be striving to do that in the future.”

Professor Jones has stood down from his post as director of the University’s Climatic Research Unit while an inquiry takes place into allegations that he manipulated and suppressed data concerning global temperature changes.
In one e-mail, he asked a colleague to delete e-mails relating to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
A climate sceptic had asked the university to publish correspondence between Professor Jones and other climate scientists because he believed an attempt had been made to discredit scientists who questioned the link between manmade emissions and global warming.
In an interview with the Press Association, Professor Jones said: “I feel tremendously pressurised by all this but I’m trying to continue my work in the science. I think it’s very important and it’s potentially very serious for the future of mankind in decades to come.”
He said he “wholeheartedly” stood by the part of the IPCC’s report to which he had contributed.
He added: “The work we do at the University of East Anglia is only a small part of [climate science], there’s thousands of climate scientists around the world supporting our results.”
He said he was concerned that scepticism about climate change appeared to be growing.
“It makes me quite worried people are beginning to doubt the climate has warmed up.”
Last November, shortly after the e-mails were leaked, Professor Jones said: “Some of the e-mails probably had poorly chosen words and were sent in the heat of the moment, when I was frustrated. I do regret sending some of them.
“We’ve not deleted any e-mails or data here at CRU.”

No apology from IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri for glacier fallacy

Head of UN climate change body 'not at fault' for false claim Himalaya ice caps would melt by 2035

David Adam and Fred Pearce, Tuesday 2 February 2010 20.31 GMT
The embattled chief of the UN's climate change body has hit out at his critics and refused to resign or apologise for a ­damaging mistake in a landmark 2007 report on global warming.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said it would be hypocritical to apologise for the false claim that ­Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035, because he was not personally responsible for that part of the report. "You can't expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report," he said.
The IPCC issued a statement that expressed regret for the mistake, but Pachauri said a personal apology would be a "populist" step.
"I don't do too many populist things, that's why I'm so unpopular with a certain section of society," he said.
In a robust defence of his position and of the science of climate change, Pachauri said:
• The mistake had seriously damaged the IPCC's credibility and boosted the efforts of climate sceptics.
• It was an isolated mistake, down to human error and "totally out of character" for the panel.
• It does not undermine the "basic truth" that human activity is causing temperatures to rise.
• That he would not resign and was ­subject to lies about his personal income and lifestyle.
Pachauri spoke as the second day of the Guardian's investigation into the emails stolen from the University of East Anglia reveals how climate scientists acted to keep research papers they did not like out of academic journals. One UEA scientist, Dr Keith Briffa, wrote to a colleague to ask him for help rejecting a paper from a journal which he edited. "Confidentially I now need a hard, and if required, extensive case for rejecting." The request apparently broke the convention that the review process should be independent and anonymous. Briffa was not able to comment because of an ongoing independent review into the stolen emails.
In another email, sent in March 2003, the leading US climate scientist Prof Michael Mann suggested ostracising a journal for publishing a paper that attacked his work.
"I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues … to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal." Mann denies any attempt to "stifle legitimate sceptical views".
The emails also reveal that one of the most influential data sets in climate science – the "hockey stick" graph of temperature over the past 1,000 years – was controversial not just with sceptics but among climate scientists themselves. "I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story [in the forthcoming IPCC report], but in reality the situation is not quite so simple," wrote Briffa in September 1999.
In his Guardian interview, Pachauri defended the IPCC's use of so-called "grey literature" – sources outside peer-reviewed academic journals, such as reports from campaign groups, companies and student theses. The false Himalayan glacier claim came from a report by the green group WWF. He said reports of further errors in the IPCC report linked to grey literature were ­spurious and the result of a "factory" of people "only there to create pinpricks and get attention".
Stories that claimed errors about losses from natural disasters and Amazon destruction were false, he said. "We looked into that [Amazon claim] and we're totally satisfied that what's been stated in the report is totally valid."
The IPCC is beginning work on its next climate report, and Pachauri said it would stress to authors and reviewers the importance of checking sources. "Our procedures are very clear on the use of grey literature. Whenever an author uses grey literature they need to double check the source of information is authentic and defensible. People have been using grey literature for quite some time now. Apparently in this [Himalayan glacier] case there has been a failure because authors did not follow the procedures required."
To exclude such reports, he said, would give an incomplete picture. "The reality is that in several parts of the world, which will be influenced by the impacts of climate change, it's an unfortunate fact that we just don't have peer-reviewed material available."
Pachauri also rebutted newspapers' claims that he lives a lavish lifestyle and wears $1,000 suits. He said: "It's ridiculous and it's a bunch of lies."
His salary from the research institute that employs him is fixed in the range of 190,000 rupees (£2,600) a month, he said, while he receives only travel expenses for chairing the IPCC.
He added: "There is a tailor who stitches all my suits for 2,200 rupees (£30)."
The panel's report at the centre of the controversy said: "The likelihood of them [the Himalayan glaciers] disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high," a statement referenced to a report by WWF, which had taken it from a magazine article. It was subsequently found to be wrong.
Questions were raised about the glacier claim in an article in the US journal Science in November, and again by the BBC on 5 December, leading to allegations that Pachauri had been told by Pallava Bagla, the Indian journalist who wrote both, that it was problematic, but failed to act.
But Pachauri said he had not become aware of the problem until January. "If he [Bagla] sent me an email and I didn't see it, I can only say that I'm sorry that I didn't see that email. A lot of my emails are handled by my office and I don't get to see them personally."
Pachauri also said he was taking steps to strengthen the staff employed by the panel. "We're in an information society today and we have to respond adequately and professionally. We've been weak in that regard to be honest. The IPCC is starting to realise we're living in a very different world to what we had in 1988.
"I think this [glacier] mistake has certainly cost us dear, there's no question about it," he said. "Everybody thought that what the IPCC brought out was the gold standard and nothing could go wrong. But look at the larger picture, don't get blinded by this one mistake.
"The larger picture is solid, it's convincing and it's extremely important. How can we lose sight of what climate change is going to do to this planet? What it's already doing to this planet?"

Tories hire Lord Stern to create green bank

The Conservative Party has recruited Lord Stern, the economist hired by Tony Blair to report on the impact of global warming, to help create Britain's first environmentally-friendly investment bank.

By Louise ArmitsteadPublished: 5:45AM GMT 02 Feb 2010

The influential author of the Stern Review will help create the Conservative vision of a bank designed to channel public and private money into funding green business plans and technologies.
Bob Wigley, the chairman of Yell Group and former boss of Merrill Lynch in Europe, is also joining the working group for the bank.

The Tories have argued that Britain lags behind European, US and Asian rivals in tapping the market for green goods and services. They say this market could be worth about £1 trillion.
Both appointments will be announced by George Osborne in a speech today. The Shadow Chancellor is set to unveil the latest Tory ideas for the future of the British economy. Mr Osborne, whose plans to cut Government spending if the Tories are elected were attacked by Lord Mandelson yesterday, will outline the Conservative's measures aimed at boosting production and hastening the country's return to growth.
Lord Mandelson warned that Tory plans to cut "billions of pounds" from government spending threatened to "strangle economic recovery at birth". The business secretary made the comments as Labour published a document entitled Conservative Party Risk to Recovery.
Mr Osborne has the task of positioning the Tories as the party for growth as well as spending cuts.

Obama Retreats From Goal of Cap-Trade Bill

NASHUA, N.H.—President Barack Obama said for the first time Tuesday that legislation that would require industries to pay for emissions of greenhouse gases may need to be separated from a more popular "green jobs" bill in the Senate, a maneuver that could kill what once had been one of the administration's top policy priorities.
Answering a participant in a town-hall meeting in Nashua who asked about green jobs—those connected to renewable energy—and so-called cap-and-trade legislation, Mr. Obama said, "The only thing I would say about it is this: We may be able to separate these things out. And it's possible that that's where the Senate ends up."
Until now, the Obama administration has refused to entertain in public the idea that lawmakers might have to split up the climate bill. The shift by the president is another sign that the White House is rethinking strategy on big first-year agenda items such as health care and climate legislation, after public dissatisfaction with its focus on those issues helped cost Democrats their filibuster-proof hold on the Senate last month.
The idea behind the cap-and-trade aspect of the climate bill is to create a market in permits that confer the right to emit greenhouse gases, which are believed to contribute to global warming. Businesses would be required to hold these permits, and over time the government would curtail the supply of permits to reduce the total amount of gases produced.
A White House spokesman downplayed the president's comments, saying Mr. Obama still favored a bill that would combine measures to encourage jobs in green-energy fields with the establishment of a trading mechanism for emissions.
Isolating the cap-and-trade proposal would make it easier for Democrats who oppose putting a price on greenhouse-gas emissions to set that part of the climate bill aside, and vote for the more popular jobs incentives now contained in the wide-ranging measure.
Mr. Obama pushed in his State of the Union speech last week for "a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America."
The climate bill in the Senate is opposed by legislators from both parties whose local economies rely on fossil fuels, and smokestack industries like steel mills and coal-fired utilities. These lawmakers worry a cap-and-trade system will burden these industries with new costs.
Mr. Obama's comments on Tuesday came amid new signs of resistance by some fellow Democrats to his administration's efforts to combat climate change.
On Tuesday, two senior House Democrats—Reps. Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee—introduced legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. In a written statement, Mr. Skelton called for setting aside legislation already passed by the House to cap greenhouse-gas emissions, and instead passing "scaled-back energy legislation" that could command greater support in both parties.
"We cannot tolerate turning over the regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions to unelected bureaucrats at EPA," Mr. Skelton said.
One possibility for Senate Democrats is to push forward with a bill already approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that would require electric utilities nationwide to generate 15% of their electricity supplies through renewable resources, with some portion met by energy efficiency measures, by 2021. The bill would also open the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to leasing and exploration for oil and gas, and establish energy efficiency standard for table and floor lamps.
Write to Elizabeth Williamson at

Fine balance of energy and environment in power-hungry Brazil

Dom Phillips: Commentary

Is it possible for Brazil’s energy sector to pursue a middle way that will satisfy the market and the environmentalists? In the course of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Government, 19 million people have been lifted out of poverty, but maintaining Brazil’s 4 per cent growth rate amid recession is no easy task and electricity consumption is growing faster than GDP. Part of the reason for this growth is that people in remote areas of the Amazon are receiving an electricity supply for the first time.
Brazil recently made the world’s largest oil discovery in 30 years, and looks set to sell it to the US. Yet it is also a world leader in ethanol production and gets 46 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, against a world average of 13 per cent.
Unlike other forms of emissions, hydroelectricity does not emit greenhouse gases, but the dam will eat up another 500sq km of rainforest. Between 1970 and 2009, 17.5 per cent of the Amazonian rainforest — once 4 million sq km — was lost. Ethanol production threatens it still more. Greenpeace argues that the country should look to wind power and the energy from sugar cane waste. “Mega-projects with great environmental impact are no longer an acceptable way to go,” says Marcelo Fortado, its executive director. “Brazil does not need Belo Monte.”
A 2009 government report backs this view. It said that an increase in the efficiency of electronic goods and a better environmental code would result in a cut in energy consumption by 2018, equivalent to installing a plant with capacity of 4.500 megawatts — 1.5 times that of Jirau, another of the 70 Brazilian hydroelectric plants in the offing.

UK carbon emissions fell by 2% in 2008, figures show

The UK exceeded its Kyoto target to cut emissions by 12.5% on 1990 levels, but will not meet the goal of 20% by 2010
Press Association, Tuesday 2 February 2010 15.53 GMT
The UK's greenhouse gas emissions fell by almost 2% in 2008, official figures showed today.
The final estimates for the year showed a fall of 1.9% in the group of six greenhouse gases and a drop of 2% for the most common of them, carbon dioxide.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the decrease is the result of continuing to switch from coal to natural gas for making electricity, combined with lower consumption of fossil fuels in industry and transport.
But emissions from households rose by more than 3%, as people used more fossil fuels to heat their homes.
Overall, the six greenhouse gases declined from 640.5m tonnes in 2007 to 628.3m tonnes in 2008, while CO2 emissions dropped from 543.6m tonnes to 532.8m tonnes.
There were decreases in emissions from energy supply, transport, businesses and industrial processes, but greenhouse gases from homes – which includes heating but not electricity generation – rose by 3.1% and CO2 increased by 3.2%.
Overall, the figures are slightly better than the results for 2007, which saw carbon dioxide emissions fall by 1.5% and output of greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxides, down by 1.7% in 2007.
The UK has exceeded its target to cut emissions by 12.5% on 1990 levels as part of the Kyoto climate treaty, but is set to miss the government's long-held goal to reduce CO2 by 20% by 2010.
The 2008 figures showed a 10% reduction in carbon dioxide on 1990 levels without carbon trading, and 13% if trading was counted.
The minister for energy and climate change, Joan Ruddock, said: "Today's greenhouse gas emissions statistics are encouraging and show a continued decline in greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 2% during 2008.
"We are now clearly exceeding our Kyoto target of 12.5% below 1990 levels. UK emissions are now 19.4% below 1990 levels without emissions trading or 22% including emissions trading.
"The UK is demonstrating the kind of year-on-year reductions that set an example in the world community."
And she said: "We are determined to strengthen and sustain the momentum behind the low-carbon transition in the UK, supporting investment in low-carbon technology, creating green jobs and providing a healthier future for everyone."
The provisional figures for emissions in 2009, which are likely to have been affected by the recession, are published next month.

Tesco opens its first zero carbon store

• New store cost 30% more to build but uses 50% less energy• Tesco to spend £100m among green technology businesses
Julia Finch, Tuesday 2 February 2010 18.22 GMT
Supermarket group Tesco, which pumps out some four million tonnes of carbon a year, today opened its first zero carbon store as part of its bid to be a carbon ­neutral company by 2050.
The shop, in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, is timber-framed rather than steel, and uses skylights and sun pipes to cut lighting costs. It also has a combined heat and power plant powered by renewable bio-fuels, exporting extra electricity back to the national grid. In addition the refrigerators – one of the biggest blackspots for food retailers trumpeting their green credentials – have doors to save energy and harmful HFC refrigerant gases have been replaced.
Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: "It shows that you can dramatically alter how much carbon you use and life can go on".
The new store, he said, "cost 30% more to build, but it uses 50% less energy, and with oil at $70 a barrel it is a business case in itself".
To coincide with the Ramsey opening, the supermarket chain said it intended to spend more than £100m with green technology companies, although Leahy was unsure of the level of supermarket's current spend on this.
Tesco has been at the forefront of the grocers' race to be green. The UK's biggest supermarket has provided £25m of funding for the University of Manchester to set up a sustainable consumption institute, and has a 10-point community plan, with pledges to increase local sourcing and to consult local communities in an attempt to be viewed as a good neighbour.
Separately, new market research data released today showed that Tesco's bid to lure back shoppers with double clubcard points and a surprise pre-Christmas mail-out of money-off vouchers has paid dividends and put pressure on Asda.
The Kantar Worldpanel data, formerly known as TNS, shows Tesco's market share climbed from 30.4% to 30.5% in the 12 weeks to 24 January compared to the same period a year ago. Asda meanwhile, has slipped from 17% to 16.9% over the same period. Last weekend Asda broke with tradition and offered discount vouchers in a bid to entice lost shoppers.
Morrisons recorded a more than 10% sales improvement, resulting in a market share of 12.5%, up from 11.8% a year ago. Waitrose is the biggest winner, with growth of 17.5%, taking the upmarket grocer to a market share of 4.1%, compared to 3.5% a year ago.
At the other end of the scale the discounters – led by Aldi and Lidl – are now losing market share after a boom at the start of the recession.

Fridge chemical '14,000 times as harmful as CO2'

Published Date: 03 February 2010
By Clare Baillie
THE use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in supermarket fridges should be banned as part of efforts to fight global warming, MPs demanded yesterday.
They claimed HFCs can be up to 14,000 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.The cross-party group of 30 MPs said that the chemicals accounted for a third of the carbon footprint of most of the major food retailers.In a Commons motion, they highlighted the "significant role" changes to supermarket refrigeration could play in cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions.Tabled by Labour MP Clive Efford, the motion states: "Hydrofluorocarbons can be up to 14,000 times more harmful in terms of global warming than carbon dioxide. We are concerned that HFCs, used in supermarket refrigeration units, account for one-third of the carbon footprint of most supermarkets."The motion calls on the government "to promote the use of HFC-free refrigeration and to introduce legislation to phase out HFCs in large supermarkets as a matter of urgency".