Britain reduces carbon emissions

There are three core areas where Britain need to reduce carbon emissions to hit the 2030 target; electricity production, heating, and transport.

Britain is ahead of other industrialised nations. This summer (2020) no coal was burned to produce electricity for over two months. Carbon emissions from electricity generation have been reduced by 44% since 1990, according to the Department for business, energy, and industrial strategy (BEIS) while the economy has grown by 2/3 in the same period. Britain cut emissions 1.8 times faster than the EU average. The country has four remaining coal power stations, and these will all be decommissioned by 2025. 

The reduction in emissions is mainly down to the move away from burning coal to natural gas which burns half as much carbon dioxide as coal. This move started with Margaret Thatcher and the closing of mines, privatising the energy markets, and introducing the north sea oil and gas. The Labour government carried on this move with the Climate Change Act in 2008, that made Britain the first country in the world to commit itself to legally binding carbon-emission reduction. Finally, the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition introduced the Carbon Price Support in 2013 that put a carbon tax on power production that made coal with its higher emissions uncompetitive. The carbon tax has to lead to coal production, making up around 25% of electricity production in 2015 to less than 2% in 2020. Wind power currently makes up around 25% of energy production and solar around 4%.

Electricity generation is only a third of the story, and Britain is currently projected to be 10% away from its legally mandated target for carbon emissions according to the BEIS. The current government has a 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution that includes a ban on petrol and diesel cars’ production from 2030, but it has rolled back the plans for mandating all new homes be carbon neutral. For the carbon-neutral goal to be met, buildings need to replace gas boilers with heat pumps, requiring larger radiators or underfloor heating.

The UK is currently leading the industrialised world in green energy production. Still, both us as citizens, through our transport and home purchasing choices, and the government, through proper taxing of externalities like carbon emissions, need to do more to hit the target we have set ourselves.