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UK carbon emissions fell 6% in 2016 after record drop in coal use

Carbon Brief analysis shows the UK’s CO2 emissions fell by 5.8% in 2016, after a record 52% drop in coal use based on analysis of Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy energy use figures.

This is a relatively significant cut for a single year, though it was beaten by cuts of 8.7% in 2011 and 8.9% in 2014. All told, CO2 emissions in 2016 were around 36% below 1990 levels.

The most dramatic change in 2016 came from coal emissions, which fell by 50% compared to a year earlier to around 37 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2). A decade earlier, in 2006, UK coal emissions stood at 137MtCO2. These CO2 cuts are down to falling demand for coal. The reduction would leave UK CO2 emissions some 36% below 1990 levels. The huge fall in CO2 from coal use in 2016 was partially offset by increased emissions from oil (up 1.6%) and gas (up 12.5%).

The third carbon budget for 2018-2022 calls for a 35% reduction in UK greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels. But the accounting method used for compliance purposes is complicated, making it hard to gauge whether the UK has already met its 2020 goal. UK greenhouse gas emissions were already 38% below 1990 levels in 2015.

UK carbon budgets cover a basket of six greenhouse gas emissions, not just CO2. Carbon Brief estimates that UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 were 42% below 1990 levels.

For more information, please see: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-cuts-carbon-record-coal-drop?ct=t(Carbon_Brief_Weekly_10_03_2017)

15 March 2017

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