UK’s carbon emissions fell by 6% last year after coal use plummeted

UK’s carbon emissions fell by 6% last year after coal use plummeted

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The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by almost 6% in 2016 after coal use more than halved to record lows, analysis suggests.

Carbon emissions from coal fell 50% as use of the fossil fuel dropped by 52%, with three coal fired power stations closing in the UK in 2016, according to the Carbon Brief website, which reports on climate science and energy policy.

The fall in coal pollution contributed to an overall drop in emissions of 5.8% in 2016 compared to the year before, Carbon Brief said.

It means UK carbon emissions in 2016 had fallen to around 36% below the reference year of 1990.

The analysis uses energy use figures from the Department of Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy, and comes ahead of the department’s own estimates for UK carbon dioxide emissions which are due to be published at the end of the month.

The assessment reveals that coal use has fallen by almost three-quarters (74%) in just a decade.

UK coal demand is falling rapidly because of cheaper gas, a hike in carbon taxes on the highly polluting fuel, expansion of renewables, dropping demand for energy overall and the closure of Redcar steelworks in late 2015.

While emissions from coal fell in 2016, carbon output from gas rose 12.5% because of increased use of the fuel to generate electricity – although use of gas remains well below highs seen in the 2000s.

Gas use for home and business heating has been falling for a decade, thanks to more insulation and efficient boilers, but the rate of progress has stalled.

Emissions from oil also increased slightly, by 1.6%, as low oil prices and economic growth lead to more miles being driven in the UK, the assessment by Carbon Brief found.

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