Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 13th July 2018

In terms of protecting the environment, carbon emissions play an important factor and a recent report has shown that Britain’s carbon emissions have sunk to the level last seen in 1890. The report was carried out by Carbon Brief, which stated that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels fell by 2.6% in 2017. This was due to a 19% decrease in coal use, which followed on from a 5.8% fall in emissions in 2016. That year there was a record 52% drop in coal use.

2018 CO2 emissions are currently 38% below 1990 levels and have been decreasing since 2012. The report is based on government energy-use figures, with the statistics being even more striking because emissions from cars have been going up. Average car emissions have been rising since 2000.

The editor of Carbon Brief, Leo Hickman, gave his opinion to BBC News. “The data highlights the dramatic impact that the rapid decline of coal-fired power plants is having on the UK emissions. The drop was not pronounced as in 2016, but in 2017 coal was joined by a fall in the use of gas due to a milder winter. If the UK is to meet its climate targets over the next few decades, this rate of decline will need to be maintained, even accelerated.”

Hickman went on to say there needed to be more focus on the building and transport sectors because emission reductions were harder to deal with.

The automotive industry has put the blame on diesel vehicles for air pollution. Environmentalists have said the pollution has also been caused by a manufacturing trend towards SUVs. Paul Morrenzo of Greenpeace said “SUV sales have had more of an impact on average CO2 emissions than the shift away from diesel. The industry just isn’t doing enough to tackle either carbon or air pollutions from its vehicles.”

Another reason for the rise of CO2 emissions is a change in tax policy. A few years ago, low-emissions cars used to be rewarded by zero car tax, but this changed in 2015 when George Osborne grouped everything but electric and hydrogen cars into the same tax band. Alex Buttle from Motorway.co.uk chimed in by saying there should be new tax breaks for electric and hydrogen cars.

As the production of electric vehicles increases, it’s hoped that CO2 emissions will decrease. The Carbon Brief has shed an important light on the industry, demonstrating that more needs to be done

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