U.K. carbon emissions fall after record drop in coal use

Posted Mar 8, 2017 by Karen Graham
New figures released by Carbon Brief shows the UK's CO2 emissions fell by 5.8 percent in 2016, after a record drop of 52 percent in the use of coal.
Uk sees drop in carbon emissions.
Uk sees drop in carbon emissions.
Carbon Brief is a UK-based website dedicated to covering climate science, climate policy, and energy policy. They analyzed energy use figures from the UK’s Department of Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to create the report.
Carbon Brief's assessment puts carbon emissions from coal in 2016 at about 381 million tons, the lowest level since 1894, back in Victorian times. Using 1990 as the reference year in which legal targets to cut carbon pollution worldwide are measured - carbon emissions have dropped 36 percent, reports the BBC.
The figures on the drop in coal carbon emissions were offset by a small increase in carbon emissions from oil (up 1.6 percent) and gas (up 12.5 percent), according to CleanTechnica.
Scroby Sands wind farm off the coast of Norfolk  England  pictured on August 27  2008
Scroby Sands wind farm off the coast of Norfolk, England, pictured on August 27, 2008
Shaun Curry, AFP
Basically, the report is good news for the UK, although it came as no surprise based on reports on the increased use of renewables. In August, it was reported that solar electricity generation had beaten out coal for the second time in 2016. This report was followed by an October report that showed solar had beaten coal generation for six months in 2016.
To add to the good news, in January this year, it was reported that wind generated energy had beaten out coal for the whole year of 2016, a first for the UK.
Reasons behind drop in coal use
The rapid fall in coal use for generating electricity can be mainly attributed to the hike in the UK’s top-up carbon tax which doubles in 2015 to £18 per ton of CO2. On Wednesday, Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to set out the future for the carbon tax. This could go a long way toward phasing out the use of coal in the UK.
There are other reasons for turning away from coal. Natural gas, which is seeing increased use, is cleaner than coal or oil, even though it produces carbon emissions. However, the increasing use of renewables such as solar and wind power generation is continuing to gain in popularity. Last year also saw the closure of three coal-fueled power plants in the UK.