According to government statistics released this week UK greenhouse emissions fell last year by nearly 9%. The reasons for this are;
- A mild winter in 2013/14 meant less gas use to heat our houses.
- Reduced use of coal for power generation as coal fired plant has been retired.
- A massive increase in renewable electricity output with almost 20% of electricity coming from renewable sources (particularly high in the final quarter).
- North sea oil production was at a record low, but gas production increased.
This fall is now becoming a longterm trend in greenhouse emissions. It does not mean that we have decoupled growth from greenhouse emissions (for starters we offshore a lot of production to countries like China). There are also other related challenges and questions. Will the fall continue with the recent fall in energy prices? How will we cope with the retirement of so much coal plant (with more to come)? How will we cope with very large outputs of solar electricity in summer? How will we heat our houses in the future (renewable heat has limitations and has yet to make any significant inroads into the UK energy scene). We cover many of these issues in our book. There are solutions but they require forward planning.
Chart data source DECC.