Good News for Your Carbon Footprint: The UK is going Green


Earlier this month, DEFRA released their 2018 greenhouse gas reporting conversion factors. This year, there have been some changes to the methodologies used, as well as some key headline figures illustrating the UK’s (and beyond) progress towards carbon neutrality.

The changes seen are important for companies in terms of reporting their emissions, as any significant year on year changes in conversion factors will impact the emissions from activities and, consequently, a company’s carbon footprint.

The UK’s grid is going green

The most significant picture drawn from this year’s conversion factors is the 19.5% decrease in the UK’s purchased electricity conversion factor. In other words, for every unit of electricity consumed, the associated emissions will be 19.5% lower in 2018 compared to 2017. This of course means that if your electricity consumption remains the same, you will see a decrease in your Scope 2 emissions. This is excellent news for companies with targets set to reduce their overall carbon footprint.

This apparent greening of the grid comes as no surprise. In April this year, we saw the first day since we started burning fuel in the furnace when the UK ran without any coal power. This trend continued for three consecutive days albeit helped by lower demand due to warmer weather, which meant gas and renewable sources were able to steal the show. However, this is clearly a step in the right direction and one that has been reflected in the change in DEFRA’s conversion factors.

What else has changed and how could it be relevant to you?

DEFRA have carried out several improvements to their modelling which means conversion factors used to calculate emissions from your operations will be a more accurate reflection of reality compared to previous years.

1. Heat and steam model

DEFRA have revamped the “Heat and Steam” model to make the factors more accurate and traceable.

2. HGVs and buses model

The effect of urea solution in removing NOx and NO2 from diesel engine exhaust gases has been incorporated into the model. Urea solution acts as a catalyst to prevent NOx emissions from forming, converting it instead into nitrogen and water vapour. The associated emission factors will take account of this reaction so that associated NOx and NO2 emissions will be lower overall.

3. Materials Model

Emission factors for closed loop sourcing of steel, construction and demolition metals are now calculated using actual emissions data from recycling rather than published estimates.

4. Waste Model

The methodology for glass landfill, and green and mixed organics composting now use a standardised approach which uses data on transport emissions to and on site, as well as landfill emissions.

Other points of interest

  • DEFRA no longer publishes transmission and distribution losses for overseas electricity, so these must be sourced directly from the International Energy Agency
  • International hotel stay conversion factors are now available for 42 different countries, including several in Central and South America, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates
  • Emission factors for biomass sources have increased across all fuel types by an average of 29.1%, with biodiesel seeing the largest overall increase (72.9%)
  • Emission factors for charging electric vehicles, both plug-in hybrids and battery, have decreased by an average of 18.9%
  • Air travel conversion factors have decreased on average by 4.2%, with UK domestic flights seeing the largest overall decrease at 11.5%
  • London Underground conversion factors have decreased by 19.6%


These changes are good news for your footprint as the UK starts to show it’s going green and beginning the journey to carbon neutrality. Find out everything you need to know about carbon neutrality and how your footprint plays a vital part in our latest eBook.

Your countdown to zero begins here…




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At EcoAct we are driven by a shared purpose to make a difference. To help businesses to implement positive change in response to climate and carbon challenges, whilst also driving commercial performance.
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