UK carbon emissions down six years in a row

I find these figures a little hard to believe.~ctm

The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions fell for the sixth year in a row last year, the longest continuous run of reductions on record, analysis suggests.

Emissions fell to 361 million tonnes, their lowest level since 1888, when the first Football League match was played and Jack the Ripper stalked London’s streets, excluding years with major strike action.

The amount of carbon pollution per person was 5.4 tonnes, the lowest it has been since 1858, the analysis by energy and climate website Carbon Brief indicates.

Bolding mine.

Carbon Brief estimates emissions were down 1.5% on 2017 levels, largely the result of a continued decline in the use of coal for electricity generation, with little change in oil or gas use.

Newly-released figures from the Business and Energy Department (Beis) show only 6% of UK electricity supplies came from coal in 2018.

And the kicker, again bolding mine.

The analysis found emissions were down 39% on 1990 levels, the baseline year for carbon pollution cuts.

Here’s the full story at Energy Voice


100 thoughts on “UK carbon emissions down six years in a row

  1. No surprise.

    Britain’s appetite for power has been waning for more than a decade as industrial activity declined … link

    If you send all your manufacturing to China, you won’t need to burn coal to generate electricity.

    • commieBob

      A fact that will be conveniently overlooked as the climate faithful trumpet the success of renewable energy for any reduction.

    • emissions were down 1.5% …….largely the result of a continued decline in the use of coal for electricity generation, with little change in oil or gas use.

      YUP, they apparently subtracted the CO2 emissions from the burning of coal ….. but didn’t add in the CO2 emissions from burning the imported wood pellets.

      • But burning wood is “renewable”, because the EU says so. Yes, processing millions of North American trees, ravaging their environment and transporting the pellets three and a half thousand miles to burn them in Yorkshire is “sustainable”. Did they look at the marine diesel pollution? I doubt it.

        Now, to put the icing on the cake, some clown at Drax has incorporated carbon dioxide capture (at vast expense) into the gaseous effluent stream and they are now claiming the whole catastrophic enterprise is “carbon negative”. I do not have the words.

          • Wait, are you saying they are trying to double dip by getting credit for reducing CO2 they pretend they don’t emit?

          • Oh, I’m sure there’s no shell games going on at all – I mean what in their history would cause you to believe they would pull a grift like that?

          • icisil, Why not just burn coal then? Because CAGW and the ‘solution’ to CAGW is a pointless game.

            It is idiot squared.

            The idiot cult of CAGW used fake science to create CAGW and then used fake engineering to justify wasting money to burn wood pellets, waste money to convert biomass to fuel, and waste money to install wind and sun gathering.

            Counting wood-burning power plants as having zero emissions, when in fact they emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour than coal plants, is the central scandal of the EU and UK approach to carbon accounting for biomass.


            A boom in biomass helps the UK meet its renewable energy goals
            “We’ve converted three of our six generators to run on wood pellets,” says Andy Koss, Drax Power’s CEO, while standing in the shadow of four new cathedral-sized storage domes built to store those wood pellets on the sprawling Drax grounds.

            “This single site produces 15 percent of the UK’s renewable electricity,” Koss says.
            Drax started transitioning its units off of coal and onto wood fuel because the UK government is putting tight restrictions on carbon emissions to help fight climate change. This year, the country announced its plan to cease burning coal for electricity entirely by 2025. And under EU law, biomass is classified as a source of carbon neutral energy.


            ….Attention bioenergy and wood pellet investors: the UK has just announced a new policy[1] that could limit future wood pellet markets, particularly if adopted by other countries. The policy sets a new and substantially lower limit on fossil-fuel “lifecycle” CO2 emissions from biomass fuels in order to qualify for renewable energy subsidies, a limit that appears to be impossible for wood pellets to meet.Given the extreme dependence of the biomass power industry on subsidies, and its growing dependence on imported wood pellets, this is a significant development.

        • It’s only a tiny demo plant. They might as well have planted a couple of acres of trees.

          • Drax is a major power stations that received taxpayer cash to convert to wood and receives more taxpayer cash to burn it. It is built above a coal seam to reduce the length of the delivery journey – ironic now isn’t.

            They can’t burn coal – it’s the wrong colour.

          • Large numbers of pellet plants and clear cut tracts in the U.S. are based on this “demo plant” model in case you want to do some fact checking. It has become a new sector in the U.S. amidst the weak housing recovery in the U.S. and the pause that occurred during the Great Recession. A news sector based on exports to policy-induced wood burning power markets in the UK and EU with no regulatory option for domestic use because of air pollution impact. So don’t just cite CO2 if air pollution is increased by policy construct.

          • The “Demo Plant” referred to is the CO2 capture demonstration part of the plant. Not the rest of the pellet burning fiasco.

    • My first thought to “The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions fell for the sixth year in a row last year . . .” was:
      Where off-shore are they hiding their emissions? It would be interesting to see a plot of “imports to the UK vs. CO2 emissions by the UK” for that same period.

    • The drop is mostly down to closing coal plant – not exporting industry. The US exports more industry to china than the UK… little has moved in the last decade from the UK (our steel and ship building went decades ago)

        • He just parrots the renewable company propaganda – no deeper than that.

          But yeah, he ought to know better by now – enough people correct him everyday – so, pretty much the same thing as lying – as in shoveling misinformation.

      • Little industry lost in the last decade???

        “The UK has lost almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs in the past decade, a new investigation by GMB has shown.

        The figures are being discussed at GMB’s Manufacturing Conference in Brighton today [Sunday June 3, 2018]

        They show that 599,100 jobs in the sector disappeared between 2007 and 2017, a massive fall of 17%.”

        Griff, you still don’t understand the need for research and data? Contrary to your belief, you were not born with knowledge, or, apparently, being capable of understanding how to acquire it.

        • jtorn, I am sure that between us we could provide quite a list of Heavy, Medium & Light Manufacturing that has closed or been moved out of the UK.

        • Perhaps, jtom, it would help if you read what was said before you misquoted it in your criticism. Griff said “The US exports more industry to china than the UK… little has moved in the last decade from the UK”.
          Losing jobs is not the same thing, note that the period chosen started just before the recession, lots of manufacturing jobs were due to firms going bankrupt at that time, any recovery has been hampered by the Brexit issue.
          However, if you do your research you’d see that the end of 2018 showed the best growth of manufacturing since 2014.

          • Phil, like griff you are talking rubbish, 2018 is not “the last decade” would you like to list the Manufacturing Industries that have come to the UK or seriously expanded their operations.
            I can provide a list of Manufacturing that we have lost
            Let’s start with
            the UKs only Aluminium Smelting plant close 2009 500 job losses
            Redcar Steel Plant 2015 1700 jobs lost
            Tata Scunthorpe 2016 900 jobs lost
            Caparo 2016 1700 job losses
            AIC steel Newport 2016 100 jobs lost
            LG Phillips Durham 2013 761 jobs lost
            LG Phillips Newport 1000 jobs to go
            Coca Cola bottling factory 2108 300 jobs to go
            Pepsi Peterlee 2017 380 jobs lost
            Vivergo BioFuels plant 180 jobs to go
            Bosch south Wales 2010 900 jobs lost.
            Ford Soton Plant 2012 500 jobs lost
            Dow Wilton plant 2010 260 jobs lost
            Cadbury Somerdale 2011 400 jobs lost
            Hotpoint Bodelwyddan 2009 305 jobs lost

          • Phil, like griff you are talking rubbish, 2018 is not “the last decade”

            Tell that to jtom, he chose the timespan, not me:

            “The UK has lost almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs in the past decade, a new investigation by GMB has shown.

            They show that 599,100 jobs in the sector disappeared between 2007 and 2017, a massive fall of 17%.”

      • Griff, as ever you don’t have a clue, since 1990 the drop is due to:-

        Reduced industrial demand 26%
        Reduced other demand 8%
        More Gas 22%
        Counting Biomass as not contributing 6%
        Land Use etc. 7%
        Electricity inter-connectors 4%
        Other 10%

        WIND AND SOLAR 18%

        As you will note the small reduction from ‘renewables’ has been massively expensive.

        Most of the reasons for decreasing CO2 output are not, cough, sustainable, and the trend is unlikely to continue with a policy of adding more windmills.

    • Destroying industry in the UK and sending it to places like China actually increases CO2 emissions globally as they are much less efficient per ton of steel etc. than we were. It also harms the environment more with REAL pollution from lower safety/environmental standards and criminality rife.

  2. The so called figures from the UK re. a reduction in the CO2 emissions
    remind me of the days of Cicero and the Court case in ancient Rome. He said to the Judges “Who gains”, i.e. follow the money trail.

    Obviously the renewable energy crowd want such figures, so they can demand that they the UK use less and less fossil fuel, but the UK by sheer necessarily, they are overpopulated so cannot grow enough food, so have to import it. Thus by sheer necessarily they have to manufacture goods to get the income to buy the food they have to import . So they have to use energy, a great deal of it.

    As with so many things in the new and not so brave world, the figures are very suspect.


    • CO2 went down after that massive North Sea gas pipeline was installed bringing in gas from Norway. Also went nuclear in the 80’s and shut down their coal production due to nonstop coal union strikes.

  3. I think it is because they are burning pelletized American forest in the Drax coal fired plant.

    Apparently that doesn’t count because it is a renewable.

    • And the assumption is that any fossil fuel burned to produce or deliver the pellets counts as US emissions, not UK. Not UK’s problem that the supplier refuses to cut down and process the trees by hand or deliver the pellets by sailing ships.

      If you’re already stupid enough to support the idea of burning wood pellets sourced on another continent when your power plant is literally sitting on a coal mine, you’re stupid enough to believe just about anything.

      • Nope – the biomass burning is included as part of the Drax plant overall CO2 emissions.

        The UK does not want to burn coal, as official government policy supported by the voters of the UK. Therefore it cannot be “stupid” to stop burning coal.

        • “The UK does not want to burn coal, as official government policy supported by the voters of the UK”

          I’m one of those voters, and I don’t recall being asked about shutting down coal power stations. If it’s “Official Government policy” then what is really meant is “Official EU policy”. But since our politicians don’t give a damn what we think (as the Brexit shambles clearly shows), it wouldn’t make any difference, anyway…

          • Obviously it is majority rule, per your parliamentarian system, that establishes official government policy. Minorities always lose out, subject to constitutional protections of minority rights. That is democracy.

    • it counts towards CO2 emission totals. Even it is a nonsense as regards reducing CO2 (all UK green groups are against it)

      • It does not “count”!

        All of these alleged emissions are based on estimates. Estimates of burning wood pellets are biased one way while estimates from burning coal, gas, diesel, etc. are biased to the opposite.

        Estimates from confirmation biased government groups are extremely unreliable!

        The financial warning that future results may not meet past results where every product and every dollar is definitively tracked for the past results is not applicable to confirmation bias estimates where past, present and future are fantasy calculations.

        • All emissions are based upon scientific estimates. There’s no such thing as a bean counter at the smokestack to measure tons of carbon, but there are most certainly stack measurments taken of emissions.

          You don’t like the data. So what? The data are still the data.

    • ” because they are burning pelletized American forest in the Drax coal fired plant.”

      Key phrase there is ‘pelletized American forest’. Still, what is actually pelletized is what is left after getting rid of most of the forest part of the green forest(water) and said water can be twice by weight of what is left over after drying said American forest. But you can be certain that the kilotons of logs and waferized and ground up fibre were surely dried sustainably being left out in the previous forest in the newly available sunny pasture for a few years before pelletizing… right? Uh yea … riiiight.

  4. Presumably, you could look at the figures from the point of view of consumption. If we are buying the same number of cars, say, but they are made elsewhere, then we are producing the same amount of CO2. Has a proper analysis been done?

    • That depends. You have to factor in transporting the cars from the factory to the consumer.
      On the other hand, if the factories themselves are closer to their sources of raw materials, that would be a reduction in transportation.
      Argh, this stuff gets complicated fast.

  5. The Climate Change Act 2008 allows the use of fraudulent accounting methods for emissions. It may even insist on them.

    • Rest assured that if the trendlines start to show a clear cooling, some of the true believers will cling to the faith in the Lord Carbon by pointing to these phony metrics. (Of course it has cooled, we’re back to 1855 levels. )

      Nobody in the liars’ den known as the news media will point out the reality that any trivial reduction in CO2 emissions in the UK are swamped by massive increases in emissions by China, India, and many others.

  6. Trouble is these days you can’t believe any of the figures, such is the track record of manipulation.
    All I can note is that energy costs seem to be going up faster than emissions are coming down.

    • There’s the rub, now isn’t it?! And I’m not holding my breath, waiting for someone to check these calculations. Any such review will be held up in the courts for decades … as the author fights any attempt at transparency.

  7. The other clue of course is that not only has Industry and thus CO2 output been Exported to the EU, India, China and the middle East the Wind Turbines & Solar Panels that are replacing Coal by Government dictat are predominantly also made abroad.
    We only make a few Turbine Blades in the UK, all the rest is imported, including most of the labour to install and run the Turbines.

  8. This is ipso fact not a credible article by the science denying language it uses. Carbon polution? CO2 is not carbon and is essential to life, a natural non toxic gas. The CO2 reduction is part of replacing coal with clean gas CCGT generation, necessary because the UK did not scrub its toxic coal burning generation emissions with its 3rd World coal fired plant. This reduces CO2/KWh by 50%. 20% of generation is nuclear, and the rest bits and pieces, soem renewable when its working. Coal is used to support gas and nuclear when the wind ain’t blowing and demand is high , especially true during calm high pressure dark winters. PS solar PV is insignigicant, and always small with an 11% duty cyclein the UK at 50 degrees North

    • DRAX, is not 3rd world and UK Coal Generators have the Scrubbers required by UK Clean Air Act & UK Law, not EU law.
      Just like the majority of the German coal fired generators burning much dirtier coal.
      But they ignore EU dictats when it suits them, can you point to any actual CO2 capture system currently in use on Production Power Stations?

  9. Something really really stinks here..

    Try running any sort of life, apart from living as hermit under a rock, through this…

    Even as diabetics in the US:
    no food
    no clothes, no electricity,
    no nothing in fact
    apart from their required 3 vials of Insulin per month, are running a footprint of 7 tonnes per year

    And Government science tells them to eat sugar
    Completely insane

  10. This is probably correct.

    Since 1990 we have made greats strides in reducing energy usage, and a switch away from coal towards gas has helped a lot.

    Nuclear power is as high as its ever been with decent preemptive maintenance now in place.

    And most heavy engineering has moved elsewhere. Where they still have economically recoverable coal.

    • There is still a good deal of economically recoverable coal in the UK. The Unions decided to play hardball with Thatcher so she shut them down. Restarting coal mining in the UK is just a matter of political will and economic necessity. Right now neither of those are favorable for it.

      • Coal mines can’t last for ever, as a mine becomes older it becomes more expensive to mine. For example, the last British mine to close which used to supply Drax had a 3 hour travel time underground to reach the coal face. At the time of its opening the lifetime of the seam was estimated to be until 2015, the year it eventually closed.
        My father-in-law was the engineer at a pit in the north of england which had exhausted the seam under the mine and had driven three miles under the sea to exploit another seam. All of this costs money and when the coal industry was privatized and government subsidies were ended these mines became uneconomic and closed.
        The coal that Drax uses is imported from mines in Poland.

      • becayuse we picked all the low hanging fruit years ago

        mines that were left are deep, miles away from the shaft to the working face, and the seams are narrow.

        In the USA its open cast – rip the mountain top off, send in the diggers and roll it out at one tenth the the price.

        • Leo, there are 100s of years worth of coal around the coast of the UK.
          Have you ever seen a modern UK Salt Mining operation, they don’t mess about with picks & shovels, they use 40ft diameter tunelling machines.
          There is no such thing as “low hanging fruit” with those machines, just Investment and the will to do it.

  11. What is Energy Voice?
    How did they measure carbon emissions in 1888?
    Did they even measure “carbon pollution” in 1858?
    What political persuasion is BEIS?

  12. “But 2018 saw the smallest fall in the series of emissions reductions since 2012, suggesting the run may be coming to an end.”

    Hedging their bet a little bit. I wouldn’t expect a pro-warmist article using “carbon pollution” to provide this kind if information.

  13. Bring us offerings and we will ensure that the moon doesn’t eat the life giving sun. As you see the moon almost succeeded but our magic was strong. Keep the offerings coming or else.

    Really not that complicated. 5,000 years of recorded history and very little real change.

  14. UK Energy Prices rise for the sixth year running.

    UK Electricity imports rise for the sixth year running.

    UK Energy Infrastructure least resilient since 1858

    UK Economy more reliant than ever on services.

    UK People’s trust in government, academia, media lowest level ever.

    • “UK Energy Infrastructure least resilient since 1858”

      I didn’t know we HAD an energy “infrastructure” in 1858, certainly not a national one. Can’t argue with the rest, though!

  15. What effect will this sterling effort have on global emissions?
    ie. does it matter a damn?
    And will it help uk in any way?

  16. As soon as I read “carbon pollution,” I know the writer is a brainless idiot simply parroting a moronic party line. Apparently using that phrase they think it makes them look intelligent. Quite the opposite though.

  17. The amount of carbon pollution per person was 5.4 tonnes, the lowest it has been since 1858

    The key words are per person
    The population in 1858 was 28 million, now it is 66 million.

    In addition , the CO2 emissions for the county have falled steadily for several decades.


  18. Charles
    Although unemployment is low, manufacturing is disappearing

    I’d say the reduction is down to the loss of manufacturing industry rather than government policy, er, hang on…

  19. As usual, the UK is leading the way. Without our vast contribution to CO2 reduction, I have no doubt that the global temperature would have increased by another 1C or more. /sarc off

    Or should that be 0.0001C or less?

  20. UK carbon emissions down six years in a row

    Well duh. As they decline, their energy use goes down, while the growing nations’ use goes up.

  21. The original story and data are at Carbon Brief.

    There is a lot of analysis along with an interactive graph — which shows astonishing reduction of CO2 emissions.

  22. I’ll bet Brexit can take it down a few more years. Promote Corbyn and they can add another 20 years of reduction to the tally….Venezuelan style.

  23. Easy to account for: look at the close down of coal power stations… plus the lack of use the remaining ones get through summer months.

    See here for plant closures:

    ‘Three large coal plants have closed during 2016: Longannet, Ferrybridge C and Rugeley (see map and tables). Eggborough and Fiddlers Ferry had planned to close, but have put those plans on hold. (Update 2/2018: Eggborough will close after September 2018).
    Around 4 gigawatts (GW) of capacity has closed this year (2017), leaving 15GW able to operate today. Together, these remaining plants emitted 53m tonnes of CO2 in 2015, around 11% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions that year.’

    Look at ‘last year’ figures here for coal electricity generation – see the summer gap?

    • Inelastic demand. Try again with the gap and you find yourself with a nasty statewide blackout. Venezela, here we come.

    • And today, wind is providing 2.72% at the moment. That’s great, Griff. Just structure your life around the electricity provided by wind power.

      • To elaborate on your point, the reference UK report in Table 1.01 shows industrial energy consumption down 50% since the 1970’s and 30% since the year 2000. As a percent of the total energy use, in 1970’s industry used 38% but by 2017 only 17%.

        CO2 emissions are reduced in this sector, by a loss of industrial production and efficiency improvements. There is no reason to celebrate loss of industry.

    • griffer, to demonstrate your green-cred, you need to use only what the pinwheels and sunlight-catchers generate. Yes, it’s all combined w/FF generation on the grid, but at least you can avoid being a hypocrite-greenie. IOW, if wind is churning out 10% of the UK total, you need to cut your usage to 10% of what you used to use. Post your power bills before and after here so we can vet them & give a green-stamp of approval.

    • Talk about cherry picking Griff, a propaganda announcement to mask their uselessness.

      There have been days at a time this past winter where wind and solar provided negligible power, it was gas and nuclear and the remaining coal that kept the lights on, it was very close to the edge at times – in an exceptionally mild winter.

      Windmills/solar only account for 18% in the cut of UK emissions since 1990 – pathetic, and ruinously expensive.

  24. I have a paper published on UK generation covering the period 1920 to 2017, with more detail on the last 20 years.

    Most of the recent cuts in total CO2 emissions for generation have come from
    (1) reduction in demand for electricity,
    (2) followed by a recent (last five years) move from coal to gas generation,
    (3) and then, least of all, increased use of renewables.
    I also show that if the UK had not bothered with renewables from about 2010, but continued the 1990s dash for gas and displaced coal generation, the UK would have saved £90 billion of generation costs, and reduced total emissions by between 300 and 350 million tonnes compared to the renewable system (see Figure 17 of the paper).

    This isn’t rocket science: if we’d just continued the dash for gas of the 90s we’d have been well ahead of the game.

    Of course, electricity is only about 25 % of the UK’s energy consumption.

  25. Re the figures, as the price of energy goes u, the usage of it will go down, smile really.

    As Brexit appears to be coming to a end, shock horror, the UK will have to face the hard fact of living in the real World.

    And if the EU Polish coal is too dear, we here in Australia have thousands of years supply, and its cheap.


  26. Well, my step-father has just binned his Honda Accord after 22 years form new. Not his first car but, 22 years from date of manufacture? That’s pretty amazing! My First car, a Hillman Imp, made at Routes in Scotland, was 8 years old when I got it for GBP75. It was 8 years old (“H” reg. BPD 781H.) and when I got it, basically, a pile of carp!

    British car making at it’s best!

  27. Another little factoid:

    According to BP World Energy Statistics, UK emissions peaked at 718.2mtCO2 in 1973. The 36.1mtCO2 is only a tiny smidgen short of achieving a 50% reduction.

  28. ‘C02 emissions’ is a misleading alarmist buzzword – ’emissions’ implies pollution and C02 is NOT pollution. And MORE C02 is better. Why indulge the nonsensical and essentially diabolical AGW narrative?

  29. That is most likely just a number thrown out there to satisfy the policies set forth at Paris. You cannot figure accurately when the only way you figure is the number of coal boilers no longer burning coal. I believe they do not count biomass (wood pellets) which emit more carbon than coal. Do they have some magical machine that measures the atmosphere?…no…. so these figures are just theory.

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