UK Carbon Emissions Are Now Lower Than In 1894

By Holly Brockwell on at

UK climate website Carbon Brief has declared after a thorough analysis of UK data that CO2 emissions fell by almost 6% in 2016, putting us at the lowest level since 1894 (not including strikes).

The change is partly due to a 52% drop in the use of coal, although as a result of alternate energy use, emissions from oil went up 1.6% and gas 12.5%.

This cut in coal use is the largest ever in percentage terms, higher even than during the miners' strikes when usage fell by around 30%.

Carbon Brief explains:

UK coal demand has fallen precipitously because of cheaper gas, the expansion of renewables, falling demand for energy and the closure [of] Redcar steelworks in late 2015.

Perhaps the most consequential factor, however, is the UK’s top-up carbon tax, which doubled in 2015 to £18 per tonne of CO2. The future of the carbon price floor is uncertain; it has only be fixed out to 2021.

However, as ever there are questions around how reliable the emissions figures are, particularly as it emerged today that the UK government classified the bustling Dartford Crossing as "a rural road" and therefore didn't have to include it in assessments of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

It's also not overly surprising that we'd be using less carbon now than in a time when Britain had busy factories, shipbuilding yards and coal fires in every hearth, but right now we'll take good news where we can get it. [Carbon Brief via Tom Whitwell]

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