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UK households cut vehicle fuel use but not air travel

Brits are making greener lifestyle choices, but only with their driving habits it seems.

UK households have cut back on spending on vehicle fuel over the last decade not on gas and air travel, new statistics released by the Office of National Statistics reveal.

Air travel vs. Vehicle fuel

Released to mark the start of Climate Week (4 to 8 March, 2013), the stats show that vehicle fuel use remained relatively flat between 2002 and 2007 before falling 24 per cent over the next five years, up to 2012.

From the start of 2001 to the start of 2008, quarterly spending by UK households on vehicle fuel increased from £84 per head to £130 per head. It then fell to £103 in Q1 2009. By Q3 2012, it was back up to £129 even though the amount of vehicle fuel purchased fell by 18 per cent.

Rising prices at the pump helped reduce UK vehicle fuel useFalling household consumption of vehicle fuel was influenced by a number of factors including that the price of a litre near doubled in the last ten years (85 per cent for petrol and 88 per cent for diesel). Fairly static household incomes, coupled with the increasing fuel efficiency of new cars and changes to road tax to account for CO2 emissions, all helped reduce cut fuel consumption.

Over the same ten year period, air travel increased by 13 per cent between Q3 2002 and Q3 2012. Between Q1 2002 and Q4 2007 households’ consumption of air travel near doubled (up 42 per cent) per head. It then fell steeply by 23 per cent in 2008, as the recession took hold. Though air travel is now recovering it yet to return to pre-recession highs. It has only increased by 3 per cent per head in volume terms, but is still higher than in 2002, indicating households still favour going abroad to staying at home.

While electricity use fell 7.3 per cent per head since 2003, household energy use rose when considering gas use, which increased 7 per cent per head.

Despite a reduction in use, rising fuel prices meant that household spending per head almost tripled for gas and more than doubled for electricity by Q3 2012 compared to the same quarter of 2002.  Overall households energy use of all kinds has fallen 18 per cent per person over the ten year period.

Climate Week is a national event designed to engage communities and workplaces in efforts to reduce our environmental impact and highlight the good work already being done by British citizens. More information on how to get involved is available on the Climate Week website.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Green credentials

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