UK emissions reduction slows, but the energy sector kept the faith


Britain’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions failed to keep up the pace, according to regulator Ofgem.

The UK has slowed its greenhouse gas emissions reduction by half a percent since 2018 and recorded the smallest emissions reduction since 2012.

Transport has remained the single-largest contributor to carbon emissions, although 2018 figures fell by 3% in 2018, due in part to increasing numbers of low or zero-emissions vehicles on UK roads, which now make up 2% of cars on British roads.

The UK energy sector should take heart however, as decarbonisation of electricity generation has seen Britain record the highest decrease in emissions of any large advanced economy, dropping 42% since 1990.

Policies supporting decarbonisation, such as the carbon price, and the huge growth in wind and solar capacity have underpinned these reductions, with renewable energy powering 33% of the UK’s generation in 2018.

Ofgem’s ‘State of the Market’ report also found the energy sector to be the best performing in reducing carbon emissions, with a 50% decrease being recorded between 2010 and 2018, whereas the transport sector saw just a 2% reduction in emissions over the same period.

With regards to the UK meeting a legally-binding commitment to net-zero status by 2050, the report from the regulator notes that “significant” investment will be required, particularly in renewable energy, and further policies are required that support the rollout of new low carbon technology, with an innovation called for to decarbonise heat.

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Ofgem will set out more details as part of its new corporate strategy to help decarbonise the economy “at the lowest cost to consumers” next year.

Joe Perkins, Chief Economist at Ofgem, said: “Ofgem’s latest state of the market report shows the progress made so far to decarbonise the economy but much more needs to be done.

“We want the UK to remain a global leader in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, and our major objective is to help the country rise to the challenge of cutting emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the lowest possible price to consumers. As well as protecting consumers in the future, our duty is also to protect those today.

“We will continue to enable competition and innovation which benefits consumers, whilst protecting those who need it, as we help build an energy market which works for all consumers.”