Britain’s Use of Coal for Electricity Increases 2001 Carbon Emissions

An increase in the combustion of coal to generate electricity in Britain resulted in a sharp jump last year in emissions of carbon, according to a consulting firm.

CAMBRIDGE, England, 2002-02-14 [] It is looking increasingly unlikely that the government’s reduction target by 2010 for carbon dioxide will be achieved, says Cambridge Econometrics in its latest edition of ‘UK Energy & the Environment.’ The document contains detailed forecasts of energy demand and emissions of greenhouse gases in Britain until 2015, in forecasts based on the company’s MDM-E3 integrated energy-environment-economy model. “After a substantial increase in 2000, carbon emissions are estimated to have risen again sharply in 2001 due to the rise in coal use for power generation,” it explains. There was a major shift last decade from coal to gas-fired generation, which allowed the power generation sector to reduce carbon emissions. The Cambridge-based company says that trend started to reverse in 2000 and, as a result, carbon emissions are 4 megatonnes higher than it forecast last summer. New electricity trading arrangements, combined with increased competition, are reducing electricity prices which, in turn, encourages consumption of electricity, it explains. Carbon emissions in both the residential and commercial sectors will increase and, “far from falling below their 1990 level by 2010, carbon emissions from households are now forecast to be 19 percent higher in 2010 than in 1990 and emissions from commerce 5 percent higher.” Carbon emissions from road transport will remain unchanged to 2010, assuming the government’s integrated transport policy works, leaving industry as the only sector that is expected to make a significant contribution to carbon reductions in the long term. “The government’s target of a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010 looks increasingly unattainable without the introduction of new measures,” warns the firm. The Kyoto Protocol requires Britain to reduce its six GHG emissions by 12.5 percent over 1990 levels, and the “proportionately larger reductions” in the other GHGs may allow the overall target to be met despite the increased emissions from carbon dioxide. The report warn that “the achievement of the government’s own 20 percent reduction target looks increasingly unattainable, however, without the introduction of new measures.” “The inherent contradictions within policy of providing cheaper energy, which encourages greater consumption while trying to achieve energy and carbon savings, appear to be starting to be reflected in the recent data/estimates,” explains Paul Ekins of Cambridge Econometrics and co-editor of the report. “Measures to encourage greater efficiency in the generation and trading of electricity are to be welcomed, but unless they are accompanied by fiscal measures which at least maintain the incentive to make prudent use of energy, they are likely … to be accompanied by increased energy demand in response to falling prices.” Cambridge Econometrics is an independent private company that has provided economic forecasts since 1978.
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