Tag Archives: coal energy

More countries agree to quit coal at COP26 – but not China and the US

A group of 28 countries joined an international alliance to phase out coal, the dirtiest energy source (it accounts for a third of the energy consumed worldwide). While the announcement made at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is encouraging, China, India, and the US, the main burners of coal, have decided not to sign up yet.

Image credit: UN climate change.

With the new pledges, the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) has now been signed by a total of 48 governments. Among the new members, Poland is one of the main consumers of coal in Europe, while Singapore is the first Asian country to join the alliance. Other signatory countries include Chile, Estonia, South Korea, and Canada.

The PPCA works to “advance the transition from unabated coal power generation to clean energy” and phase out coal by 2030, according to its website. It not only includes national governments among its members but also local ones and financial institutions such as HSBC, Vancity, and Fidelity International, which also became new members. 

For the UK, the COP26 President, the expansion of the alliance was seen as a sign that the end of coal could soon be achieved. Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s business secretary, said that the announcement “marks a milestone moment” as countries tackle climate change. “The commitments demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight,” he said in a statement. 

But climate campaigners weren’t that much excited. Jamie Peters, director of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, questioned the fact that countries are allowed to continue using coal energy as normal until 2030. He said there’s a big gap between what the UK government is saying and what’s actually being done by countries at COP.

Furthermore, it’s doubtful that all countries will actually try to phase out coal within the decade and keep their pledge. Poland, for instance, gets around 80% of its energy from coal and recently decided to keep a coal mine open despite a €500,000-a-day fine.

China, the world’s largest coal consumer, is also not present at the table. Coal accounted for 56% of energy generation last year in China and the government is still building new coal plants. Still, some positive signals recently emerged, as China decided to stop funding coal plants abroad and agreed to decarbonize its economy. The US and India have also declined to join this initiative.

While progress might be slow, there have been some positive signs. A report earlier this year found that a total of 1,175GW of planned coal-fired power projects were canceled since 2015 — mainly due to pressure from civil society, government policies, and market trends. This essentially halved the expansion of coal.

Energy day at COP26

While the announcements on coal took most headlines, it wasn’t the only big thing at COP26. Four major economies also agreed to stop supporting fossil fuel projects internationally. Canada, the US, Italy, and the UK promised not to finance any new coal, oil, and natural gas projects in other countries by the end of next year. 

The pledge was seen by campaigners as a historic breakthrough that wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. Laure van der Burg, campaigner at Oil Change International, said that the countries are doing what’s most logical in a climate emergency, “stop adding fuel to the fire and shift dirty finance to climate action.”

Developed countries support fossil fuel projects abroad that they expect to benefit their economies. A study by Oil Change International showed that in the 2018-2020 period Canada was the main financer of foreign fossil fuels in the G20 group. Canada also joined today’s pledge, but big countries were missing as China and Australia.

Asia´s new coal plans are jeopardizing world’s climate targets

A group of five Asian countries are responsible for 80% of new coal power stations planned around the world, with the project threatening goals to fight climate change, according to a new report. Carbon Tracker, a think tank, found that Japan, Vietnam, China, and India plan to build more than 600 coal plants over the next few years, which can spell trouble for the entire planet.

Image credit: Flickr / Hans Permana

The plants will be able to generate a total of 300 gigawatts of energy, which is equivalent to around the entire electricity generating capacity of Japan. But this will come at quite a cost. Coal is one of the most environmentally damaging sources of energy and is being developed despite the availability of cheaper renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. 

“These last bastions of coal power are swimming against the tide, when renewables offer a cheaper solution that supports global climate targets. Investors should steer clear of new coal projects, many of which are likely to generate negative returns from the outset,” Catharina Hillenbrand von der Neyen, author of the report, said in a statement. 

Climate experts see phasing out coal as key in tackling the climate crisis, whose impacts are expected to accelerate soon. But many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which have long relied on fossil fuels to power their economies, have been slow to act, even as countries in the European Union and the US accelerate their transitions.

Another climate headache

The Paris Agreement on climate change, signed in 2015, aims at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. For this to happen, the use of coal in electricity generation should decline by 80% from 2010 to 2030, which means retiring one plant per day until 2040, according to the report. But instead of retiring plants, we’re adding new ones.

China, the world’s biggest coal consumer and largest greenhouse gas emitter, is the country planning the largest number of coal plants. It has 368 stations in the pipeline with 187GW of capacity, Carbon Tracker estimated. India is planning 92 plants with 60GW capacity, followed by Indonesia with 107 plants and Vietnam with 41. 

Li Shuo, Beijing-based policy adviser with Greenpeace East Asia, told Deutsche Welle that China’s plans is linked with the perception that they will generate GDP and jobs, and importantly aid the pandemic recovery. Nevertheless, he believes China “has more plants than it can use” and it will end up losing money in the medium to long term. 

The pandemic witnessed a record 4% decline in coal generation in 2020, with all countries apart from China, seeing falls. Part of this decline was owing to lower electricity demand, but was partly attributable to coal being displaced by wind and solar, which grew by 15% year over year – a trend Carbon Tracker describes as irreversible. 

Nevertheless, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its most recent global energy outlook predicts 2021 to have the largest increase in energy-related carbon emissions since 2010, driven by a rebound in the use of coal in Asia, with demand expected to grow 4.6%. Much of the increase is down to a revival of coal being used for electricity generation in China.

Progress in cutting coal generation further this decade to limit temperature rises rests almost entirely on developments in the regulated markets of Asia, which accounts for around 75% of global coal capacity. This is despite the fact that 77% of the global coal operating fleet is higher cost than new renewables today, and this will continue to rise, Carbon Tracker said. 

The think tank called investors to cancel all new coal projects, describing it as a risky investment, and governments to use post-Covid stimulus as an opportunity to lay the foundations for a sustainable energy system. “Coal no longer makes sense, financially or environmentally,” Catharina Hillenbrand von der Neyen said in a statement. Hopefully, the world will take not.

Wind and solar energy doubled their share since the Paris Agreement

Wind and solar have doubled their share of global electricity generation since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015, reaching almost 10% in the first half of the year, according to a new report.

Nevertheless, it’s still not yet enough to meet the climate targets and sustained action is needed further on.

Credit Robert Couse. Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The energy consultancy Ember looked at 48 countries that make up more than 80% of the global electricity production. Wind and solar generation rose by 14% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the report.

In total, both energy sources explained 9.8% of the electricity generation.

Renewable has become a big player

Many major countries now generate around a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar, the report showed. This includes China (10%), the US (12%), India (10%), Japan (10%), Brazil (10%), and Turkey (13%). The EU and UK were substantially higher with 21% and 33% respectively. Within the EU, Germany rose to an impressive 42%, nearing a tipping point where half of its energy would be renewable.

But other countries are lagging behind the global average: Canada’s share has barely changed since 2015. South Korea’s share has been increasing, but at 4% is still less than half the global average, and Vietnam is making up for lost time increasing from 0.2% in 2018 to 6.4% in the first half of 2020.

The pandemic barely impacted solar and wind generation, the report showed. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has impacted the rate of new renewables installed this year, slowing it down significantly. A forecast by the International Energy Agency predicts a 13% decrease in the installation of renewable energy in 2020. Stimulus packages focusing on a clean transition can help that bounce back.

While solar and wind generation largely expanded, coal generation is also decreasing, the report showed, dropping 8.3% in the first half of the year. This breaks a new record, following on from a year-on-year fall of 3% in 2019.

For the first time, coal plants were needed for less than half the time. Coal
generation fell by almost 9%, but coal capacity fell only 0.1%. That means
the utilization of coal plants has fallen to 47% in the first half of 2020, from 51% utilization in 2019.

However, it’s not just the world’s transition to renewable energy that can explain that. Renewables definitely play a role, but there’s also by the drop in electricity demand amid the Covid-19.

India has seen remarkable results, with wind and solar moving from having 3% of the market share in 2015 to 10% in the first half of the year. At the same time, coal’s share fell from 77% to 68%. In China, coal’s share fell from 68% to 62%, while in the US coal’s market share was reduced by 17% as natural gas expanded.

Despite this rapid change, it’s still not enough to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a goal mentioned in the Paris Agreement. The IPPC, a global group of climate experts, estimated coal use needs to fall by about 79% by 2030 from 2019, a fall of 13% every year throughout the 2020s. So while there are encouraging signs, we’re still not on track for climate stability.

“It’s clear that even with the rapid trajectory from coal to wind and solar over the last five years, progress is so far insufficient to limit coal generation in line with 1.5-degree scenarios,” the researchers wrote in the report, calling for further expansion of renewable energy sources.

UN calls on governments to ditch coal from their coronavirus recovery plans

As the world starts thinking of the day after the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked countries to stop financing the coal industry in order to have a more sustainable future. So far, many seem to be missing the point, he warned.

“Coal has no place in Covid-19 recovery plans,” he said yesterday during an online summit hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA). More than 40 government ministers from countries around the world participated in the conference, representing 80% of the global energy use and emissions.

The goal of the summit was to set out plans to reduce global emissions while also boosting economic recovery after the pandemic. Guterres praised a few countries and regions that are on the right track such as the EU, South Korea, Nigeria and Canada, but also questioned others that are doing the exact opposite.

“Some countries have used stimulus plans to prop up oil and gas companies that were already struggling financially. Others have chosen to jumpstart coal-fired power plants that don’t make financial or environmental sense,” the UN head said, claiming that since the pandemic started twice as much recovery money has been spent on fossil fuels as on clean energy.

That’s indeed the case. A report by 14 expert organization to be published next week found that between early this year and July 3, 2020, G20 countries have committed at least USD 135 billion to fossil fuels and at least USD 68 billion to clean energy in their stimulus and recovery packages.

Along with the IMF, the IEA released in June a blueprint calling governments to invest up to three trillion dollars in a green recovery after the pandemic. Failure to do so would repeat what happened after the 2008 economic crisis, when countries didn’t prioritize stimulus spending on climate-friendly projects and led to an increase in emissions.

Governments could renovate electricity grids, upgrade hydropower facilities, promote electric cars, and extend the life of nuclear power plants, the IEA and the IMF suggested. Doing so would cut 4.5 billion tones out of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2023 and put the world on a path to achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Guterres said as nations channel “trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into recovery strategies” they must invest in a more sustainable future. “We can invest in fossil fuels whose markets are volatile and whose emissions lead to lethal air pollution, or we can invest in renewable energy which is reliable, clean and economically smart,” he said.

Replying to the request for further action, Zhang Jinhua, director of China’s National Energy Administration, said the country, which accounts for more than 50% of global coal use today, is committed to developing its clean energy sector. Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, told CNN that he was “heartened” by China’s response.

Climate woes: China ramps up coal power

Much of the world is saying goodbye to coal-based electricity because of the high amount of greenhouse gases it releases to the atmosphere (and because it’s often just not worth it). But China remains as the single exception, having added enough coal to power 31 million homes in the last 18 months, according to a new report.

A usual image in Beijing due to air pollution from coal production. Image credits: Flickr.

The Global Energy Monitor, a network of researchers looking at the role of fossil fuels, published the report Out of Step, showed China is in the process of building and reviving coal plants that are equivalent to the entire electricity generation capacity of the European Union.

Countries outside China decreased their coal power capacity by 8.1 GW between January 2019 and June 2019, the report showed, mainly because of retirements of plants and a decline in the number of new plants commissioned by countries.

But, in the same period, China increased coal power by 42.9 GW and as a consequence global coal power rose 34.9 GW. This was due to a set of new projects authorized by the government, with 147 GW of coal plants under construction or under suspension and likely to be revived.

The researchers argued that Increasing the coal capacity of China isn’t compatible with the Paris Agreement goal of avoiding a temperature increase of over 2 Celsius degrees, while also limiting the possibilities of China reducing its emissions according to the country’s pledge.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global group of climate scientists, said that in order to maintain on track for the Paris Agreement’s goals it will be necessary to reduce between 58 and 70% the amount of coal-generated globally by 2030, then reducing to between 85 and 90% by 2035. China will have to phase out all its coal power capacity by 2035, which puts a retirement age of between 17 to 21 years for all its coal plants. But this seems unlikely considering the government’s plans to ramp up coal electricity generation, the report argues.

Researchers are particularly worried about the fact that Chinese coal lobby groups are pushing the government to increase the country’s coal power capacity. They are proposing an increase between 20 and 40% to between 1.200 and 1.400 GW by 2035, according to the report.

“The thing we are super worried about is that industry has actually organized to keep the whole thing going,” Ted Nace, one of the researchers, told the BBC. “There are three different powerful trade groups, proposing to increase the coal fleet by 40%. This is sheer madness at this point.”

The UK just went 55 hours without using any coal

The United Kingdom has broken a historical record, going for more than two days without using any coal for energy. Coal, which has powered the world for over a century, is starting to lose more and more ground to renewables.

Sources of UK energy between April 12 and April 18 2018 (National Grid).

The industrial revolution started in 18th century Britain, but now, a new revolution is underway — a green revolution. In April 2017, almost exactly one year ago, Britain powered itself without coal for an entire day — for the first time since the industrial revolution. The record was broken again in October when the country ran for 40 hours straight without using coal.

Now, Britain has managed to do the same thing for more than two days in a row. Furthermore, on Tuesday (17th of April), more than 60% of Britain’s electricity was generated through low-carbon sources: nuclear (20.1%), wind (33.7%), solar (3.3%), biomass (5 %) and hydro (0.9%); natural gas production was also remarkably low on that day. Wednesday reported largely similar numbers.

It’s the first time in over a century that this has happened.

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A day in the life of The Black Country. Painting in Meunier Museum in Brussels.

British coal industrial revolution had two major hubs, in and around London, and in and around Birmingham, UK, in an area called The Black Country

But, interestingly, British coal usage dates far back. By the 2nd century AD, Romans were already exploiting all known major coalfields. After the Romans left Britain in 410 AD, there are no records of coal being used in the country until the end of the 12th century. But shortly after the signing of the Magna Carta, in 1215, coal began to be traded in areas of Scotland and north-east England. As early as 1228, coal was carried by sea to London.

The earliest evidence of coal burning was found in China, from 3490 BC.

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Officials say they expect more records to be reported this summer, as temperatures continue to rise and renewable generation continues to increases. However, it should be said that this particular record came on the back of significant warming — temperatures rose and most houses reduced or completely stopped indoor heating as a result. However, this doesn’t mean that the UK doesn’t deserve praise for its achievement.

Quite a difference from the old coal days. Image credits: Martin Pettitt.

Britain was an early adopter of renewable energy and can boast more offshore wind turbines than any other country in the world. While not particularly sunny by any means, the country still generates a significant amount of its energy through solar panels, and that figure is continuously rising. Lastly, the decline in natural gas prices also plays an important part in coal’s demise. Replacing one fossil fuel with another is certainly less than ideal, but coal is much dirtier than natural gas. Hopefully, since renewables are cost-competitive in many parts of the UK, we will start to see more renewable energy and even less fossil fuels.

Italy announces plans to completely phase out coal by 2025

After France, the UK and Canada, now Italy has announced an end date for coal power generation.

Milan is one of the European cities with the worst air pollution. Image credits: Nicolago.

Italian Industry Minister has announced concrete plans to end coal power within less than a decade, asking the national grid company to identify the infrastructure needed to make the transition. Italy’s biggest utility company (Enel) has also announced that they will not be investing into new coal-fired plants.

Like most countries in Europe, Italy’s renewable sector is constantly growing, year after year. In 2015, renewable sources generated just under 38% of the country’s electricity. While hydroelectrical plants are the biggest contributor (15.5% of the total), solar and wind sources generate show steady growth, reaching 13%. Geothermal and bio-energy are also significant sectors. Italy has no nuclear plants after they banned them through a referendum in 1987.

Coal currently produces around 15% of Italy’s energy. It still is an important electricity source and if this move carries through, it will mean that some plants would have only run for fifteen years. Electricity generation from coal has remained relatively stable over the past decade,

Chris Littlecott, who leads a fossil fuel transition programme at think tank E3G, welcomed the announcement from the Italian government.

“Italy’s positive commitment to phase out coal by 2025 demonstrates real international leadership as it completes its year holding the G7 Presidency,” he said in a statement. “Italy now joins its G7 peers in Canada, France and the UK in taking action to phase out coal power generation over the next decade. Together, they can lead a growing coalition of countries and regions that are now acting on coal.”

Italy’s south has abundant Sun, while the north is more suitable for wind energy.

However, nothing has been confirmed just yet. The measure is set to seek governmental and parliamentary approval at the beginning of November, and it remains to be seen if it will pass, and if yes, in what form. There are reasons to be optimistic but until a full strategy has been presented and voted, it’s a rather cautious optimism.

The measure is also expected to encourage the usage of electric vehicles. Italy aims to raise the number of electric charging stations to 19,000 by 2020, but it doesn’t make much sense to develop electric cars if the electricity is still generated from dirty sources.

Italy is greatly suffering from air pollution and smog. Just this year, cities in northern Italy reported pollution levels way over safe levels, and Milan and Rome are looking into car bans as an emergency way to clear out the city air.

For the first time in history, solar jobs outnumber coal jobs in Virginia

Virginia is one of the traditional “coal states” — but even there, renewable energy has a strong foothold. For the first time ever, Virginia has more solar than coal jobs.

The economic benefits of renewable energy are sending ripples throughout the world, despite the best efforts of the US administration. Even as President Trump is leading an all out war on clean energy and tries to support fossil fuels instead, renewables still prevail. Numbers from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy show a 40% drop in the number of people working in the coal industry in the past five years. At the same time, the number of jobs in the solar industry has grown more and more, up until parity was reached — and overcome.

Numbers from the Solar Foundation show that the industry grew by about 65% over the last year alone. Most of the jobs were in installation, construction, and manufacturing. But while this is good for both the economy and the environment in the long run, in the short run, employees might not be so happy. Although there are more jobs overall and although re-training projects for coal workers exist, solar jobs are normally not as well paid as coal jobs, something which of course, will cause a lot of frowns in Virginia and similar states.

“If you had to take another job, in this area especially, you’re going to take anywhere from a 50 to 70 percent pay cut to what the next best thing that’s out there,” says Craig Williams, who works as a foreman at Consol Energy’s Harvey mine, about an hour south of Pittsburgh.

This is also not an isolated trend. According to CNN, solar employment expanded last year 17 times faster than the total US economy, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency report. While coal still generates more energy than solar in the US, the latter employs twice as more people (which is normal for an industry that’s still at an incipient stage).

The divestment from coal continues, but Trump and others continue to promise that “they’ll bring coal back.” Unfortunately, they don’t really mean they’ll bring jobs back, because nowadays coal doesn’t really provide that many working opportunities. Automation and a market decline that’s been going on for decades mean that the overall trend of coal jobs will continue to decline. What “bringing coal back” in this case means increasing the profits of companies, as the video above illustrates. If we really care about the traditional coal communities and want to ensure their livelihood in the future, we have to facilitate their shift to other industries. Sure, it might not be as high paying, and it’s hard to learn a new skill, but it’s better than being lied to. Taking a sip of the sour truth is much better than taking a big bite of a sugar-covered lie.

 

 

India cancels plans for huge coal power station — because solar energy is getting so cheap

Good news from India, as authorities report the scrapping of plans for nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations.

Image credits: Vinaykumar8687.

Indian energy

India is the world’s second most populous country, and one of the fastest growing economies. Several projections put future India as the world’s most populous country and the world’s third largest economy by 2050, so if we are to truly combat global warming and achieve a sustainable future for the planet, India will be a key player.

Looking at India’s development over the past few decades has been quite a rollercoaster. With poverty running rampant through many parts of the country and a severe lack of infrastructure in the rural areas, it was surprising and inspiring to see the country’s ambitions in terms of renewable energy. In recent years, India has become one of the best markets for solar energy, with more and more panels being installed every day.

There are over 300 million people currently living in India with no access to electricity, most of which live in rugged, inaccessible areas. Establishing a conventional grid would be incredibly costly, but this is the beauty of solar power: it doesn’t really require a conventional grid. Aside from being renewable, clean, and cheap, solar can work with a local or separated grid.

Still, despite India investing massively in renewable energy (mostly solar), they’ve also developed a backup plan — also committing to fossil fuel energy, especially coal; pretty much the dirtiest source of energy. Last year, India announced plans to build more than 300 gigawatts (GW) of new coal capacity by 2030, even though that was found to be almost entirely unnecessary and wasteful, as over 90% of that new capacity would remain idle. Basically, the Indian government remained determined to not put all their eggs in one basket and invest both in renewable and fossil fuel energy.

Coal of the past

In 2017, things changed a bit. The Indian state of Gujarat announced the cancellation of a proposed 4 GW coal ultra-mega power project, citing a surplus of energy in the area and a desire to continue moving away from coal. That was just the start.

Now, in total, 13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been canceled this month alone, which is quite a figure.

Analyst Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said that tariffs have dropped so much in India that a tipping point has been reached: solar energy is now cheaper than coal.

“Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable.”

“India’s solar tariffs have literally been free falling in recent months,” he added.

It’s a positive prospect for India, which could trigger a chain reaction elsewhere in the world.

 

Britain powered itself for a day without coal — the first time since the industrial revolution

UK’s National Grid hailed a lofty milestone as it reported that Friday, 21st of April, was the first day since the Industrial Revolution that the country powered itself without coal.

Coal power is a significant part of the UK’s historical identity. Image credits: Acombmate2114.

A world built on coal

In the 19th century, Britain was leading the planet through the Industrial Revolution, and nothing would never be the same again. The shift from hand production methods to machines affected every aspect of human life. For the first time in history, the standard of life started to exhibit a solid, sustained growth, and this was clearly visible for everybody: average income and population grew wildly. It’s estimated that the world population in the early 1800s was just around 1 billion people, but the rate of increase after that was staggering. It took several centuries for the population to double from 500 million (around the year 1500) to 1 billion – yet after just one century, the population reached two billion in the 20th century, and here we are now at over 7 billion.

Coal energy powered the world through the Industrial Revolution. Image via Wiki Commons / US Gov.

All that was possible largely due to coal and other fossil fuels (oil & natural gas), which provided the necessary energy. But aside from the population growth and the increase in standard of living, the Industrial Revolution brought in another, more insidious effect: climate change. As Britain and subsequently the world became industrialized, greenhouse gas emissions started to increase and accumulate in the atmosphere. In the mid 20th century, concerns started to grow about our impact on global climate, and by the turn of the century, the situation became pretty clear: man-made emissions were having a significant, detrimental impact on the global climate. If we wanted to change that, reducing our emissions was the way to go.

So it came to be that much like the rule of the British Empire over the world had faded, the grip that coal had on humanity was starting to wane.

A day without coal

It was a clear sign of coal’s dropping power when the control room of the National Grid tweeted this on Friday:

https://twitter.com/NGControlRoom/status/855544665172529156

Coal has seen a strong and steady decline in the UK, coming down from 30% in the early 2010s to less than 10% in 2016. To their merit, the UK has invested greatly in renewable facilities, although they’ve done so out of economic reasons rather than a desire to reduce emissions. Still, Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF, called the first coal-free working day “a significant milestone in our march towards the green economic revolution”.

“Getting rid of coal from our energy mix is exciting and hugely important. But it’s not enough to achieve our international commitments to tackle climate change – we haven’t made anything like the same progress on decarbonising buildings and transport. Whoever forms the next government after the general election, they must prioritise a plan for reducing emissions from all sectors.” Redmond-King said.

In recent years, renewable energy has surged in Great Britain, with wind covering some 12% of the country’s electricity needs, and solar also pitching in (to a lesser extent, this is rainy Britain after all). Nuclear is also solid in the UK as a low-carbon energy source, contributing to about 20%, a figure that has remained more or less constant for many years now. But it wasn’t all low-carbon sources that compensated for coal — natural gas also stepped into the picture, and natural gas also shows a steady growth in recent years across the country. So it’s not like it’s all renewables replacing coal — a big chunk of that is replaced by natural gas, which while still an improvement, is still not the best way to go.

Getting rid of coal

Scotland’s wind energy helped a lot. Image credits: Gordon Proven.

Worldwide, coal is still used on a massive scale, especially in developing economies such as China and India. While this is an encouraging milestone for the European country, we still have a lot to go before we can say we’re on the right track. Scientists have warned time and time again that despite the Paris Agreement, the world is not doing enough to maintain a healthy track. As for the UK itself, the country seems too caught in its political woes to truly worry about the environment.

After the Brits decided they want to leave the European Union, the government just announced new general elections and that’s pretty much covering all the headlines. The country’s ongoing air crisis is largely ignored as action was delayed yet again, despite the government actually losing a trial due to this. It seems that the sheer inertia of and economic rentability of renewable energy is carrying the UK on its back — and for now, we’ll just have to settle for that.