Analysis Shows Consistent Drops in CO2 Levels in the U.K.
With carbon dioxide emissions steadily declining in the U.K., carbon emission levels in 2017 dipped below emission levels from 1890, according to a recent analysis.
The analysis, conducted by Carbon Brief, a U.K.-based online news organization that reports on climate science, found that emission levels fell by 2.6 percent, based on newly released statistics from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The steady decline of carbon emissions in the U.K. mirrors the waning trajectory of coal use in the region, said the analysis. Last year, coal usage rates fell by 19 percent. The record drop in coal usage was in 2016, when the country dropped their coal usage by 52 percent, according to another analysis by Carbon Brief. Currently, coal makes up 5.3 percent of the U.K.’s primary energy source, whereas, in 1995, coal constituted 22 percent.
In 1858, coal use was 65m tons. It later peaked at 221m tons in 1956, then began to steadily decline. In 2017, coal use was estimated to be at only 15m tons, making it 78 percent below the level in 1858 and 93 percent below the level at its peak.
Natural gas use has also recently declined. In fact, the decrease in gas and oil consumption were early drivers for the first major drops in carbon emission levels. Meanwhile, usage rates for oil and petroleum increased last year, but not significantly enough to offset the carbon emission levels, the analysis said.
While the total of the U.K.’s current carbon emissions are 38 percent below emission levels from 1990, the government still has some work to do to get to 80 percent below the 1990 levels by 2050, a goal they committed to in The Climate Change Act of 2008.
Other instances of large drops in carbon dioxide emissions occurred in 2014 (at nine percent) and 2016 (at six percent). According to Carbon Brief, the U.K. has had the largest drops in CO2 emissions than any other large economy in the world.
The U.K.’s government has other major commitments in relation to energy sources and carbon emission levels. They are one of the first major countries to pledge to the closure of unabated coal production, with plans to close all coal generation plants by 2025.
Additionally, the U.K.’s Renewable Energy Roadmap from 2011 says that the U.K. is committed to deliver 15 percent of the U.K.’s energy consumption from renewable resources by 2020.
The majority of electricity in the U.K. comes from fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, while coal usage rates decline, according to Energy UK. A small amount of other fuels are also used for electricity consumption. For other electricity sources, about 21 percent comes from nuclear power plants and 24.5 from renewable energy sources, including wind, hydropower, biomass, and solar.