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UK CO2 emissions have fallen by 29% in 10 years

The 2.9% reduction in UK CO2 emissions for 2019 marked the 7th year for falling carbon rates.

Alongside this, the levels reached in 2019 were last seen in 1888.

As the UK enters the 2020s, a decade where actions against climate change and emissions will be taken, predictions show that the UK will not reach its carbon targets.

To meet the legally binding targets, CO2 emissions would need to reduce by 31% by 2030 whereas projections show a 10% reduction. This is based on current government policies.

In 2019, we saw CO2 reduce by:

  • -27.9% in coal
  • -0.9% in oil
  • -0.1% in gas
  • -2.9% in total

Therefore, from these results, we can see that falling CO2 levels were driven by the reduction in coal. The largest portion of coal use came from the power sector.

Furthermore, last year we saw fossil fuels account for an all-time low of 43% of electricity generation. In contrast, 54% of electricity generation was derived from low-carbon sources including 37% from renewable sources.

In addition to this, 2019 saw 83 days where coal power wasn’t used. Due to these ever falling rates, the majority of UK coal power plants have announced plans to close within the next year.

Despite the reduction in coal, it was found that the emissions produced from burning gas barely changed. Therefore, this fuel is the largest contributor to UK emissions.

Following this, it was also found that oil demand and emissions fell by nearly 1%. This is despite the increase in road traffic found in government figures published last year.

Ultimately, the UK has seen the quickest decline in CO2 emissions of any major economy worldwide. In 2019, UK emissions were an estimated 354 MtCO2. Therefore, the UK is in between Australia at 421MtCO2 and Poland at 344MtCO2. Additionally, per-capita CO2 emissions were 5.3tCO2 which is above the global average of 4.8 but below the EU average of 7.0.

Please head to Carbon Brief for the full report.

Categories: Energy (General)
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