Air Monitoring

Did the UK Have Its Greenest Year?

Jan 10 2018 Read 735 Times

Was 2017 the UK’s greenest year on record? According to WWF Head of Energy and Climate Gareth Redmond-King ‘we have never been cleaner or greener’ in terms of renewable electricity. Read on to see whether the figures paint the real picture.

Record breaking

In the past year there has been a steady increase in the rise of renewable energy. Britain have in fact broken 13 clean energy records, with predictions that 2018 will allow for a ‘new era’ of lower carbon emissions.

The UK has also joined a Powering Past Coal Alliance with 25 countries and regions including Canada, New Zealand and France. With aims to grow this to 50 partners, the alliance hopes to achieve ‘a safer climate, healthier people, and a clean economy.’

To achieve this, the government have declared their commitment to phasing out unabated coal-fuelled power by 2025. Moreover, Britain experienced its first coal-free day since 1880s, which according to National Grid was a ‘watershed’ moment for energy systems.

This fits well into meeting the Paris Agreement, as the UK needs to phase out coal completely by 2030. Luckily clean power has become a low-cost option for generating power and subsequently there have been global investments into renewable energy.

Is there more to be done?

However, further changes need to be made to ensure that 2018 beats these records. In 2017 40% of global electricity was still produced by coal-fired power plants. Therefore, to enact changes serious actions need to be taken to decrease carbon pollution from coal emissions.

There are also growing concerns in the rise of CO2 global emissions as in 2017 there was a steady growth of 2%. A main contribution is said to be China’s increase use of coal and lower water levels, which limit the hydro-powered electricity and their reliance on other power sources. Nitrogen oxides are another big concern, as discussed in ‘ECO PHYSICS’ NOx Detectors / NOx in the Field of Burners and Boilers’.

Missing targets

More specifically, if the UK continues to use gas and oil at its current rate then there are worries Britain will dangerously miss its carbon targets. In 2018 there are continuing concerns about the legal levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO2 air pollution is estimated to cause 23,500 deaths every year and environmental lawyers ClientEarth are demanding new plans to be drawn. The UK government are being sued for the third time in the high court for this illegal air pollution affecting urban areas.

These concerns add to the pressure of the Paris Agreement and the Clean Growth Strategy outlined by the UK government. Although there is move from the flawed way we generate power globally, there is still more to be done to tackle climate change.

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