Climate Week: people cut back on vehicle fuel but not air travel or gas

Households have cut back on vehicle fuel over the past decade, but not on gas and air travel, according to analysis published today by the Office for National Statistics.

The release, published to mark the start of Climate Week (4 to 8 March 2013), shows:

· Use of vehicle fuel remained relatively flat between 2002 and 2007 before falling 24% per head in the next five years.

· Air travel increased by 13% between Q3 2002 and Q3 2012.

· Electricity use fell 7.3% per head since 2003. Gas consumption went up 7% per head.

The analysis shows households are becoming greener in their use of vehicle fuel. Between Q3 2002 and Q3 2012 households consumption fell 18% per head.

This coincides with Department of Energy and Climate Change data showing that the annual price per litre of petrol and diesel almost doubled (an 85 and 88% rise respectively) between 2002 and 2012.

Households’ consumption of vehicle fuels is influenced by a number of factors including the price of fuel, household income, the price of vehicles and their fuel efficiency. Changes to road tax (cars with higher CO2 emissions incur a higher tax) and increasing fuel prices will have influenced consumers’ decisions on the use of fuel and greener, more efficient cars.

Air travel has continued to increase. Between Q1 2002 and Q4 2007 households’ consumption of air travel went up 42% per head. It then fell steeply by 23% in 2008. This shows that in the years before the recession the amount of air travel households undertook was growing, but has failed to recover from the fall in 2008. It has only increased by 3% per head in volume terms, but is still higher than in 2002, indicating households still favour going abroad to staying at home.

Consumption of gas per head has increased by 7% in the last decade as prices have increased. Household spending per head in Q3 2012 has almost tripled compared with Q3 2002.

One of the alternative energy sources to gas in the home is electricity. Between Q3 2002 and Q3 2012 household consumption of electricity fell by 7.3% per head. However, price changes have meant that spending per head has almost doubled.

Also published today is the short story Climate Week – Changing Spending Patterns of Households which can be found here:

Climate Week – Changing Spending Patterns of Households presents households’ consumption of vehicle fuel, air travel, gas and electricity. Estimates used are from Consumer Trends Q3 2012 published 21 December 2012, and are consistent with the UK National Accounts.

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