5 essential facts about the UK environment

June 5th 2015 is World Environment Day, an annual event that aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.

We’ve pulled together a range of UK data to show the contribution the environment makes to the economy, the impact the economy has on the environment and some steps being taken to respond to environmental issues.

1. Natural capital was worth £1.6 trillion in 2011
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2. Urban areas make up 11.6% of the UK
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The dominant habitat in the UK is pastures at 22.0%. Urban and related developed areas make up 11.6% of the UK, an area similar to that covered by woodlands (11.8%).

3. UK greenhouse gas emissions 23.6% lower in 2013 compared to 1990
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Greenhouse gas emissions are widely believed to contribute to global warming and climate change. Carbon dioxide was responsible for the largest amount of GHG emissions.

4. The UK recycling rate of ‘waste from households’ reached 43.9% in 2012 
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The UK recycling rate of ‘waste from households’ was 43.9% in 2012, up 3.6 percentage points since 2010. The EU target is at least 50% by 2020. Wales had the highest rate in the UK in 2012, at 52.5%.

5. Environmental taxes raised 7.5% of total UK revenue from taxes and social contributions in 2012
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Environmental taxes brought £41.3 billion in revenue in 2012, this was equivalent to 2.5% of GDP. Environmental taxes are important for pollution control and natural resource management.

For more information, please contact:digitalcontent@ons.gov.uk.