The latest government figures show that the UK’s CO2 emissions are at their lowest levels since Victorian times. So what’s driving this decline and how can we decrease it further?

“The UK leads the world in cutting its carbon, having lowered its levels of CO2 emissions faster than any other major economy in the world”

An analysis of the UK’s CO2 emissions has found that levels have fallen for the sixth consecutive year, which is the longest series of continuous reductions on record. The analysis was carried out by climate news website Carbon Brief, which used recently released energy use figures from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). BEIS figures show a 2.4% reduction in CO2 emissions in the UK in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Lowest levels since 1888

This reduction in CO2 emissions is driven by falling levels of coal use and, outside the three years of general strikes in 1893, 1921 and 1926, when CO2 emissions dipped dramatically, is the lowest since 1888. It also represents a fall of 39% since 1990. This means that the UK leads the world in cutting its carbon, having lowered its levels of CO2 emissions faster than any other major economy in the world.

The main reason for this impressive decline is a shift away from coal-fired power stations to cleaner forms of energy production. CO2 emissions from coal now make up just 7% of the UK total, a share that will decline further as we get closer to a complete phase-out of coal-fired power stations in 2025.

A global problem

However, while falling CO2 emissions are good news for the UK, across the world the levels are going up. A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 1.7% over 2017 to 33.1 gigatons – the highest level on record.

This is the second increase in the two years since the Paris climate agreement was signed, making its goal of a 26% emissions cut by 2025 seem very far away. The IEA reports that China, India and the United States were between them responsible for 85% of the increase and 70% of all global energy demand.

“Once again, we have a major increase in global CO2 emissions, which takes us further away from the climate targets which were established by several countries internationally,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

Carbon Balanced Paper

One way in which companies can do their part to help combat the increase in global CO2 emissions is through the use of Carbon Balanced Paper. By using Carbon Balanced Paper for their printed communications companies can reduce their carbon footprint and their impact on climate change.

Carbon Balancing is delivered by World Land Trust, an international conservation charity which protects the planet’s most biologically important and threatened habitats. The Carbon Balanced programme offsets emissions through the purchase and preservation of high conservation value forests.

“The money that is given to the World Land Trust,” says Sir David Attenborough, Patron of World Land Trust, “has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.”

For more information about World Land Trust and their work, go to: www.worldlandtrust.org
For more information on the latest CO2 emissions levels, go to: www.carbonbrief.org

Article written by Sam Upton.
Featured image credit: AdobeStock