New analysis by the UK’s Carbon Brief website has shown that UK carbon dioxide emissions fell by 5.8% in 2016 due in part to a record 52% collapse of coal use.
According to Carbon Brief, a UK-based site dedicated to covering climate science, climate policy, and energy policy, and based on analysis of energy use figures from the UK’s Department of Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK CO2 emissions fell by 5.8% in 2016, putting the country’s overall emissions around 36% below 1990 levels. The drop was partly due to a massive fall in coal use, down 52% in 2016 alone, though this was partly offset by a marginal increase in emissions from oil (up 1.6%) and gas (up 12.5%).
This is significantly good news for the UK, but it is also completely unsurprising given reports over the past few months.
In August, it was reported that solar electricity generation had for the second time in 2016 beaten out coal in the UK (July). This was subsequently followed in October by a report showing that solar had actually beat out coal generation over a six month period (April through September).
In early January this year, it was also reported that the UK’s wind sector generated more electricity than coal did during the whole of 2016, a first for the UK.
The drop in coal use has long been predicted, as country-wide policies came into effect and the economic sense of switching to renewables and gas began outweighing holding onto coal. Coal use has been falling for several years, with record low usage reports being filed at the beginning of each new year. Now, looking back at 2016, coal use fell so far that it even fell through the years of the UK miners’ strikes in 1921, 1926, and 1984.
This has resulted in a lot of focus being placed on gas-generation — a move which can be debated for its cleanliness. Nevertheless, as has already been shown, renewable energy generation is nevertheless increasing.
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