UK carbon dioxide, emissions
Photo by Chris LeBoutillier from Pexels

The UK’s carbon dioxide levels fell to levels last recorded more than 138 years ago, according to climate organisation Carbon Brief – a 2.9% drop in 2019 marking the 7th consecutive year of reduced carbon emissions.

Carbon levels this low – last seen in 1888 – says the organisation are thanks largely to the decline in coal use which dropped by 29% in 2019. However oil and gas consumption remain largely unchanged.

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Heartening is the report’s finding that the majority of the reduction in coal use was thanks to the energy sector – accounting for 93% of the drop in demand.

The report further details a 29% drop in carbon dioxide emissions since 2010, despite the economy growing by 20% over the period – again driven in the main by reductions in coal emissions, which have dropped a massive 80% over the last decade.

Emissions from gas have dropped by 20%, and oil consumption has been reduced by 6% over the same period.

Carbon Brief has called for the next ten years to be a “decade of action” if global climate goals are to be met, and the UK’s emissions will have to fall by another 31% in order to meet the country’s carbon budgets. Concerning, however, are indications that a mere 10% reduction is predicted based on current UK policy.

The report notes: “Looking at international data up to 2018 – the most recent year available – the UK has seen the fastest decline in carbon dioxide emissions of any major economy. Only the US has seen larger absolute cuts than the UK, in terms of tonnes of carbon dioxide over this period, but its 5% decline is smaller in percentage terms.

“The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2019 stood at an estimated 354 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, some 41% below 1990 levels.”

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