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Latest Progress in Carbon Emissions

20 Jul 16:00 by Steve Walia

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The DECC has published its latest figures for the UK's progress in the renewable energy field, and the report includes the latest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. To date, the published figures are provisional estimates, but they show that a reduction of just over 32 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (and equivalent) was achieved this year compared to 2015.

This means that Britain was responsible for emitting 483 million tonnes of greenhouse gases for the 12-month period that ended in March 2016. The biggest part of these damaging greenhouse gas emissions is still coming from the energy supply sector, although it managed to achieve the second greatest fall within this period, thanks primarily to a reduction in the use of coal-fired power stations to produce electricity. Even when emissions reductions are adjusted for temperature, the reduction is notable and does of course reflect a period where Britain's fossil-fuel power stations are rapidly ageing and approaching their decommissioning stage.

There was, however, an area where emissions increased - and that was transport. It reminds policy-makers that Britain is making slower progress in the field of greener transport and that further work to develop and promote sustainable new-generation biofuels is needed. Transport overall paints a rather dispiriting picture for renewable energy progress, with just 4.1pc of energy used in the sector coming from green sources. This is a drop of 0.8pc compared to figures from 2014. EU targets will mean that the government must rapidly boost this figure to at least 10pc by 2020, but the realistic chances of this happening are fading fast, especially in the post-Brexit period of uncertainty.

The summary position therefore remains that good progress is happening, but there is still plenty of scope to truly achieve Britain's vision of a low-carbon economy.