UK's initial progress on carbon cutting starts to slow

(The Guardian, 4 Mar 2019) Emissions fell for sixth year running in 2018, but reductions margins have shrunk.

The government has been warned against complacency on climate change action after figures showed a slowdown in the rate of Britain’s carbon emission cuts.

Emissions dropped for the sixth year running in 2018, to 361m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, a level last seen in the late 19th century.

But there are signs the country’s recent period of rapid progress is drawing to a close. The estimated 1.5% decline last year was considerably smaller than the 3.2% fall in 2017 and the 8.7% drop in 2014: the biggest in recent years.

Labour, which has pitched itself as more radical than the government on climate change action, said the figures showed the need to speed up decarbonisation.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said: “The government are wrong to be complacent about the UK’s falling emissions when we know that winning slowly on climate change is the same as losing.”

UK emissions have been on a long-term trend downwards over the past three decades, and the pace has picked up in recent years.

Coal power’s decline over the past decade accounted for three-quarters of CO2 reductions over that period, according to the website Carbon Brief, which estimates emissions from an analysis of government energy data.

Simon Evans, the policy editor at the group, said: “The lion’s share of recent CO2 reductions in the UK have been due to falling coal use.”

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The Guardian, 4 Mar 2019: UK's initial progress on carbon cutting starts to slow