UK Climate Policy
Although the world’s leaders are accused of doing nothing to tackle climate change, the UK’s Government has been very active on the issue. In the so-called Carbon Plan that was published in late 2011, the Government extensively explained what has been done so far to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and what will be done in the future. About the Carbon Plan
The Carbon Plan describes how the UK will reduce its carbon footprint while preserving energy security and keeping the costs for consumers as low as possible. But the plan also offers an insight into the progress that was made so far. UK’s Carbon Footprint Over Time
Energy sector. The findings of the Carbon Plan are very encouraging. They reveal that since 1990, the UK’s power stations cut carbon emissions for about 25%. This is a result of a wide scale shift from coal to natural gas as well as wind and other renewable and low-carbon sources of energy. Today, these generate about 10% of total electricity. And considering that nuclear power accounts for 16% of total electricity, one quarter of UK’s electricity comes from low-carbon power stations.
Industry. Despite the fact that the UK’s industrial sector experienced an average growth of 1% per year since 1990, it has reduced its carbon emissions for nearly 50%. This is related to the rise of environmentally conscious and energy efficient industries as well as to the shift to knowledge-based sectors.
Agriculture. Carbon emissions in the agricultural sector fell for about one third since 1990. According to the Carbon Plan, this is related to the introduction of more energy efficient agricultural practices but it is partly also related to the landfill tax which dramatically reduced waste-related carbon emissions.
Residential/commercial buildings. Despite the growth of population, the residential/commercial buildings have reduced their carbon emissions as well. Lower carbon footprint in the residential/commercial sector has been related to more energy efficient condensing boilers and insulation of over one half of all UK’s homes with cavity walls.
Transport. It is the only sector that remained unchanged when it comes to carbon emissions. Before 2007, the emissions of carbon dioxide even increased. But they soon dropped to the 1990-levels due to more efficient vehicles, greater availability of biofuels and to a certain degree also due to the economic crisis.
By 2050, the UK’s Government plans to cut the country’s carbon emissions for 80%. How? Through increased energy efficiency in all sectors and replacement of fossil fuels with electricity which in turn will be generated from renewable sources and nuclear power. But the Government also plans to utilise a variety of technologies in order to prevent the country becoming too dependent on a single technology.