Vattenfall’s Ormonde offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea
The UK’s carbon emissions now at their lowest since 1888 when first ever matches were played in the English Football League
UK carbon emissions fell by almost three per cent last year, topping off a decade of deep decarbonisation which has left CO2 at its lowest level since the English Football League was founded in 1888, fresh analysis released today indicates.
CO2 emissions dropped 2.9 per cent in 2019, as coal power played an ever decreasing role in the UK energy mix and renewable electricity capacity expanded, according to data from Carbon Brief. The latest annual results suggest emissions have fallen 28 per cent over the past decade, further cementing the UK’s position as the industrialised economy with the most impressive emissions reduction track record.
Since 2010 emissions from coal power have fallen 80 per cent, while CO2 from gas has also dropped by 20 per cent and from oil by six per cent. Overall, falling coal emissions account for around three-fifths of the cut in carbon emissions over the past decade, with gas accounting for another third and oil making up the remainder, the climate analyst said.
In the past year alone Carbon Brief found coal emissions had fallen by 28 per cent, while gas and oil emissions both dropped by one per cent each.
The UK has rapidly reduced its reliance on coal power in recent years and last month brought forward its target to phase out coal altogether by a year to 2024. By the end of this month, two further coal plants – Aberthaw in Wales and Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire – are due to close.
The latest findings mean UK carbon emissions have fallen every year for the past seven, marking the longest run of continuous decarbonisation on record and taking emissions to their lowest level since 1888, excluding years in which economic output was hit by general strikes, Carbon Brief explained.
The largest contributor to the dramatic drop in emissions has been the UK’s shift to cleaner fuels, which has primarily been driven by rapid growth in renewables capacity and improved energy efficiency across the economy.
The analysis tallies with government statistics last week which confirmed low carbon sources – including renewables and nuclear generation – for the first time provided more than half of the UK’s electricity in 2019, while overall energy production fell for the first time since 2014.
It also comes as the clean energy sector secured another major boost yesterday with the news the government plans to allow onshore wind and solar to once again compete for government-backed clean power auctions. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy formally launched a consultation on the proposals, which also include plans to reform the UK’s clean power contracts regime to better support cutting edge floating wind turbine projects and the fast-expanding energy storage sector.
Audrey Gallacher, interim chief executive at trade body Energy UK, welcomed the latest CO2 data, which she said highlighted the rapid transition across the industry in favour of low carbon generation.
“But with less than 30 years before the net zero target, the transformation actually needs to go further and faster than this – not just in power generation but in others areas like heating and transport as well as energy efficiency, which this research shows has made the major contribution to reducing emissions since 2010,” she added.