Greenhouse gas emissions across the UK fell by more than 8% in 2014 thanks to a combination of greater energy efficiency, burning less coal and increasing renewable power generation, government figures suggest.
Statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate change show overall emissions fell by 8.4%, when compared to 2013, while carbon dioxide fell by 9.7%. The biggest fall was in the power sector, which saw emissions fall by 15%, offsetting a slight increase in transport emissions.
Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said, “2014 was truly a record-breaking year for low carbon generation. Our plan to decarbonise the economy while it grows is working – we’ve reduced our emissions by 8%, increased the amount of electricity we’re getting from renewables and seen the economy grow at the same time.
“It is crucial we continue to build a low carbon energy sector based on home grown sources, as it is crucial to improving our energy security, as well as stimulating economic growth and reducing emissions.”
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In a recent government report Davey described the UK’s low-carbon economy ambitions as being “within reach”.
The fall has been linked with a shift away from coal power generation towards clean energy sources. In 2014, renewables accounted for 19% of power generation, up from 15% in 2013. Emissions from homes also fell, suggesting that energy efficiency measures for homeowners are having an impact.
Environmental group Greenpeace UK has welcomed the figures. Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist at the organisation, said, “Last year UK carbon emissions fell dramatically whilst the economy grew faster than it has in any year since 2007. This is further evidence, if it was needed, that efforts to cut carbon pollution and boost our economy can go hand in hand.
“And since a reduction in coal use was a crucial factor in bringing down CO2 emissions, these figures give us a taste of what could be achieved if our political leaders got serious about phasing out the dirtiest of all fossil fuel and gave proper backing to clean energy.”
Climate change targets have also had an impact on global emissions. Figures released by the International Energy Agency last week suggest that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled for the first time in 40 years without an economic downturn in 2014. The organisation added that the findings suggest that OECD countries are decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
Photo: Greg Goebel via Flickr