New official figures show the UK hit its “milestone” carbon targets between 2008 and 2012.
That’s despite a blip which saw emissions rise from 2011 to 2012 which Energy Secretary Ed Davey described as “worrying”.
Government statistics show carbon emissions in the UK fell 36.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) below the ceiling of 3,018 MtCO2e.
The carbon budgets are a set of targets for the UK to crush greenhouse gas emissions which is meant to reduce the effect of climate change.
Mr Davey said: “We have reached an important milestone today. The UK has met its first carbon budget, which is the first step in fulfilling our commitment to cut Britain’s emissions by 80% to 2050.”
A chilly year in 2012 meant emissions from homes went up 12.3% (8.5 MtCO2e) because people used more gas, while the energy supply sector also saw emissions go up by 5.9% (11.2 MtCO2e).
The Energy Secretary put the rise in emissions between 2011 and 2012 down to coal being cheaper than gas.
He said: “The increase in emissions in 2012, compared to 2011, is of course worrying – but it needs to be put in the context of higher gas costs that made coal a more attractive fuel for electricity generation and an increase in residential gas use due a very cold winter.”