UK CO2 emissions fell for sixth consecutive year in 2018

Posted on 19 Mar 2019 by Sarah Bellamy

Last year saw the UK’s CO2 emissions fall for the sixth consecutive year, according to Carbon Brief. This continued pattern marks the longest run of reduction since records began in 1850.

The Grangemouth Refinery, Scotland - image courtesy of APS
The Grangemouth Refinery, Scotland – image courtesy of APS

In 2018, the UK’s CO2 emissions were approximately 361m tonnes (MtCO2), a figure which is about 39% below that of 1990, this is the largest reduction by a major world economy during the time period.

Over the past six years, some of Britain’s largest reductions occurred in 2014 (with a reduction of 8.7%) and 2016 (with a drop of 5.9%).

The UK’s per-capita emissions also fell to 5.4tCO2 in 2018, a figure that is the lowest the UK has seen since 1858, when the population was under half what it currently is.

For per-capita emissions, the UK is now ranking alongside France, produces around three times more CO2 than India’s 1.8tCO2, and much less than China’s approximate 7tCO2.

A large driving factor for 2018’s reduction of 1.5% was decreasing coal use, which was down 16% compared to the previous year. Emissions from gas remained the same, while CO2 from oil increased 4% on the previous year.

The decrease in emissions from coal is projected to continue, as more coal-fired power stations close in anticipation for the 2025 phaseout. Gas is now the UK’s largest source of CO2 emissions. The sector creating the most amount of emissions is transport, largely due to the fact that its amount produced has remained largely unchanged since 1990, while most other industries have seen a marked decrease.

The government’s Committee on Climate Change will deliver their advice on when the UK should reach net-zero emissions on 2 May this year.