- -

UK emissions have fallen 29% over the past decade, but how?

Published March 29, 2020

UK emissions have fallen 29% over the past decade, but how?

The UK’s CO2 emissions has fallen by 29% since 2010, despite the economy growing by 20% over the same period.

Analysis by Carbon Brief shows UK carbon emissions have now fallen to levels last seen in 1888. The country’s CO2 emissions fell for the seventh consecutive year in 2019, down by 2.9% since 2018. The most recent fall in emissions was driven by another 29% reduction in coal use last year. Meanwhile, oil and gas use remained unchanged.

The climate change news service found that carbon emissions from coal have fallen by 80% over the past decade. Emissions from gas are down 20% and oil by just 6%.

Jeremy Nicholson, energy market expert and Corporate Affairs Officer at Alfa Energy Group,  commented:

“This remarkable achievement should be more widely acknowledged; the UK is leading the way on reducing emissions.”

Going forward, government projections expect only a further 10% fall by 2030. This suggests the UK will miss its legally binding carbon targets later this decade. CO2 emissions would need to fall by another 31% by 2030.  The Committee on Climate Change has warned the UK’s targets over the next decade are likely to be insufficient to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Nikki Wilson, Alfa Energy’s Carbon Compliance Manager, said:

“New policies are now needed to tackle further emission reductions and meet future carbon budgets.” Nikki points out that the proportion of coal in the UK generation mix stood at just 1% in Q3 2019, compared to 35% in the same quarter of 2012.

The CCC wrote to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in December 2019 to outline five key priorities for the government on cutting UK emissions. The CCC is due to publish its advice on the sixth carbon budget in September 2020. The sixth carbon budget will set out a pathway to meet the UK’s net zero emissions target in 2050.

For more, see: Carbon Brief