great britain uk co2 emissions fossil fuel coal fired power station carbon greenhouse gas

Coal use has fallen by almost three-quarters in a decade

While newly-minted President Donald Trump is fighting to get coal back in the energy game, on the other side of the pond the fossil fuel is decidedly out of fashion.

The closure of coal mines, including the last British underground coal mine in 2015, is part of a global trend away from coal, as countries transition to less polluting natural gas and renewables.

The effect of the mine closures, along with the shuttering of coal-fired power stations – three closed in 2016 – has meant a dramatic fall in greenhouse gas emissions for the island nation.

UK’s CO2 emissions at lowest level since 1894

According to Carbon Brief, an energy and climate science website, with the use of British coal used for electricity at record lows, carbon emissions in 2016 were about 381 million tonnes. New Scientist points out that with greenhouse gas escapes dropping almost 6% in 2016, the UK’s carbon pollution is at its lowest level since 1894:

CO2 emissions from coal fell 50 per cent in 2016 as use of the fossil fuel dropped by 52 per cent, contributing to an overall drop in carbon output of 5.8 per cent last year compared with 2015, Carbon Brief said.

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

Cleaner air

New Scientist names cheaper natural gas, a hike in carbon taxes, expansion of renewable energy, less demand for overall energy, and the closure of Redcar steelworks in late 2015, as all factors resulting in cleaner air. Although, it points out that carbon from natural gas use rose 12.5%, and emissions from oil increased 1.6% due to lower gasoline prices, in 2016.

Over 20% of the United Kingdom’s energy needs are still met by coal, which is mostly imported. Since 2000, UK power generators Electricité de France SA to RWE AG have bought more of the fuel from abroad, where coal from Australia to Colombia is cheaper, according to the Confederation of UK Coal Producers.

Source: – 8 March 2017