UK's Emissions Drop by a Record 9.2%, Renewables Rise

While the UK lags the rest of the European Union on use of renewable energy, carbon emissions dropped by a record 9.2% last year, as GDP rose 2.6%, reports Carbon Brief.

How did that happen? Coal use declined 20%, energy consumption 7%, and thanks to climate change, the country experienced record warm temperatures in 2014, which meant less use of gas for heat. 

This is largest year-over-year emissions drop ever for the UK, with a growing economy, says Carbon Brief, which analyzed data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

The UK’s emissions are now 28% below 1990 levels, in contrast to the US, which is shooting for 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The UK’s goal is a 50% cut by 2025, and 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels.

Energy demand peaked in 2005 and has been falling ever since, and coal use in 2014 was the lowest since the 1850s, says Carbon Brief. The country is switching from coal to natural gas, as prices have moved to favor that, but even gas use is down because of the warm winter. 

Even without the warm weather, emissions would be down 4.9% for the year, they say.

European Union

Progress is similar for the European Union, where energy use is back to 1990 levels, despite a 6% population increase and 45% economic growth since then. Efficiency in buildings, manufacturing, fuel economy in vehicles are all playing important roles.  

As of 2013, renewable energy supplied 15% of all energy consumed by the European Union, says Eurostat, and it is on track for 20% by 2020.

2014 was also a great year for growth of renewables in the UK, increasing its share from 15% to 19.2% of electricity. It still lags the EU at around 5% renewables when heating and transportation fuels are included. 

The EU recently announced targets for 2030: cut emissions 40% below 1990 levels, 27% of all energy from renewables, and increase efficiency 30%.

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