Call us for more information
Call Us
Get it Touch
Call us for more information01772-500727
Follow us

We are the Ultra Local Solar Company, bringing Power to the People, one solar panel at a time.


2nd Floor, D11, Millennium Road, Ribbleton, Preston, PR2 5BL


UK Map

UK’s Carbon Footprint: Comparing It To Its Neighboring Countries

The UK has made significant progress in reducing its carbon emissions over the past few years, but how does it compare to other countries in the region? In this article, we’ll take a look at the UK’s carbon footprint compared to those of its neighboring countries, and discuss how different strategies have been employed to reduce emissions.


As the UK looks to meet its carbon targets for the coming years, it’s interesting to compare its progress and emissions against those of its closest neighbors. The UK has made great strides in reducing its carbon footprint in recent years, but there is still a long way to go.

The UK’s carbon footprint is currently the sixth highest in the EU, behind Germany, Poland, Italy, France, and Spain. The UK’s emissions have been falling steadily for several years, but they are still well above the levels needed to meet the country’s ambitious climate targets.

Westminster London

Looking at the UK’s emissions on a per capita basis, however, gives a different picture. On this measure, the UK ranks ninth in the EU, with an average of just over six tonnes of CO2 per person per year. This is much lower than countries like Germany and Poland, which have high populations and large industrial sectors.

When comparing the UK’s carbon footprint to that of its neighbors, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. However, the UK is making good progress toward reducing its emissions and mitigating climate change.

Overview of the UK’s Carbon Footprint

As the sixth-largest economy in the world, the United Kingdom (UK) has a large carbon footprint. The UK emitted 564.79 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2016, ranking it as the 14th highest emitting country. This is equivalent to about 1.7% of global emissions. The UK’s emissions have been on a downward trend since 1990 but grew by 3.5% between 2014 and 2016 due primarily to the increased use of coal for electricity generation.

The UK’s per capita emissions are high compared to other countries, at 8.9 metric tons of CO2 per person in 2016. However, this is lower than the average for developed countries of 10.5 metric tons of CO2 per person. When comparing the UK’s total emissions to its population size, it ranks as the 12th highest emitting country on a per capita basis.

The majority of the UK’s emissions come from the energy sector (84%), with transportation (12%), industry (3%), and agriculture (1%) accounting for the remainder. The power sector is responsible for most of the energy-related emissions, followed by transportation and heat/cooking in homes. Industrial processes and fugitive emissions make up a small but growing share of total emissions.

Find out how the UK compares to her neighbours in terms of annual carbon dioxide emissions. You may be leasantly surprised at her carbon footprint.
Share of annual global emissions for the UK and some other EU countries in 2021

Comparison to Neighboring Countries

The United Kingdom’s carbon footprint is one of the smallest among its neighboring countries. The UK’s total emissions in 2016 were 564 million metric tons of CO₂, which is about 4.5 metric tons per person. This number has decreased significantly since 1990 when the UK’s emissions were 675 million metric tons. The decrease is largely due to the UK’s switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation.

In comparison, France emitted 556 million metric tons of CO₂ in 2016, while Germany emitted 757 million metric tons. Italy emitted 242 million metric tons and Spain emitted 334 million metric tons. As a whole, the European Union emitted 4,037 million metric tons of CO₂ in 2016. The UK’s carbon footprint is thus smaller than both France’s and Germany’s and is a fraction of the EU’s total emissions.

2021 per capita emissions for the UK and her neighbours

The UK’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint are commendable, but there is still more work to be done. The UK must continue to invest in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures if it wants to further reduce its emissions and meet its climate goals.

Trends in Carbon Emissions in the UK

-In the UK, carbon emissions have been on a general decline since 1990.
-Emissions from electricity generation have fallen by over half since 1990, while those from the industry have declined by around a third.
-Transport emissions have remained relatively flat over this period.
-The fall in emissions from electricity generation is largely due to the switch from coal to gas for power generation, as well as an increase in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
-Industry emissions have declined due to improvements in energy efficiency and the shift from manufacturing to service industries.
-However, transport emissions have not fallen as much as hoped, due to increased demand for travel.

These trends are in line with those of other developed countries. The UK has been successful in reducing its carbon footprint, but there is still more work to be done.

Future Policy Plans for Reducing Carbon Emissions

The United Kingdom has a strong history of leading the way in fighting climate change. It was the first country to pass a Climate Change Act, committing to reduce its emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The UK is also a signatory of the Paris Agreement, which calls for all countries to take action to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C.

To meet these ambitious targets, the UK has put forward several policy plans for reducing carbon emissions. These include:

  • Investing in renewable energy: The UK government has committed to investing £100 billion in renewable energy by 2020. This includes investment in offshore wind, solar, and tidal power.
  • Improving energy efficiency: The UK has set a target to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2030. This will be achieved through measures such as insulating homes and businesses and promoting the use of efficient appliances and lighting.
  • Switching to low-carbon transport: The UK government has committed to ensuring that almost all cars and vans are zero emission by 2050. This will be achieved through a switch to electric vehicles, as well as measures such as introducing cleaner fuels and improving public transport.
  • Reducing emissions from agriculture: Agriculture accounts for around 10% of the UK’s emissions. The government has pledged to reduce these emissions by 30% by 2030 through measures such as encouraging farmers to adopt more sustainable practices and planting trees.


The UK has made impressive strides in shrinking its carbon footprint and reducing emissions, but it’s clear that there is still more work to be done. Comparing the UK’s carbon footprint with that of its neighboring countries shows how much further we need to go to truly reduce our environmental impact and ensure a sustainable future for everyone. It is up to us, as individuals and as nations, to make sure our actions today create a cleaner tomorrow. Talk to us to start taking part!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *