Britain has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other rich country.
The elimination of power stations that burn coal has helped Britain cut its carbon emissions faster than any other rich country since 1990. They are down by 44%, according to data collected by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy during a period when the economy grew by two-thirds. Germany’s emissions, in contrast, are down by 29%; coal is still burned to generate some 24% of its electricity.
Britain has made cuts to its emissions 1.8 times larger than the EU average since 1990. The emissions of other rich countries like America, Japan and Australia are flat over the same period, or even up slightly. As a result, Britain’s success has given it prominence in the global debate on climate change.
This year it will co-host COP26 in Glasgow, the world’s largest and most important climate gathering. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is attracted to the futuristic whizbangery of clean energy and is deploying “climate diplomacy” to help define post-Brexit Britain’s place in the world. In November he presented a “ten point plan for a green industrial revolution” that included spending £12bn ($17bn) on clean energy gubbins.
In 2015 coal produced about a quarter of Britain’s electricity. Now it accounts for less than 2%. Solar power has grown, but a cloudy, crowded island is not well suited for the technology. In 2020 solar provided just 4% of electricity. Wind, on the other hand, provided almost a quarter - a world leading figure that results in the UK often being referred to as the Saudia Arabia of wind energy.
Whilst the above is both impressive and very good news, greening the electricity power grid was the easy bit. Heating and transport will be harder.
Meanwhile, across the Channel....
In an extraordinary, groundbreaking case, a Paris court has convicted the French state of failing to address the climate crisis and not keeping its promises to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. In what has been hailed as a historic ruling, the court found the state guilty of “non-respect of its engagements” aimed at combating global warming. More...