Emissions from UK power stations soar.

The Queen is not amused
The Queen is not amused

This shock news is all the more shocking because it has been happening for a number of years. If someone has been tracking this they haven’t been telling the public. A report commissioned by the environmental group WWF from consultants IPA, found that UK power sector emissions rose by nearly 30% between 1999 and 2006!

As gas prices have risen faster than coal, generating companies have used more of the higher carbon fuel. WWF says that the “dash for gas” of the early 1990s has been replaced by a de facto “roll to coal”. Since 2002, coal prices have risen by about one-third and gas prices by two-thirds, with gas showing a lot more volatility.

The various mechanisms designed to bring down emissions, such as the UK’s Renewables Obligation and the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), have not been enough to combat this financial pressure towards coal. IPA sees a high price for carbon as a key driver towards lowering emissions in the power sector.

The government admitted last year that it would fail to meet its longstanding commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010.

WWF said that even the government’s longer-term targets, announced in the Climate Change Bill earlier this month, of CO2 reductions of about 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050, would be in doubt unless it curbed the growth in coal burning for electricity.

NOAA has just confirmed the Northern hemisphere’s warmest winter on record.

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20 Responses to Emissions from UK power stations soar.

  1. inel says:

    Have you seen the latest response from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to the Draft Climate Change Bill’s carbon reduction targets? It is worth reading. The 4-page briefing note, bn17 as a PDF is here.

    I am glad we have organizations such as Tyndall and environmental groups like WWF who can assess, inform and track government policies and results for carbon emissions. We would be up a creek without a paddle without them!

  2. matt says:

    I think there’s a number of issues with the proposed bill. The Tyndall Centre are rightly looking at the targets themselves. The point I have made on Miliband’s blog, is regarding the use of emissions trading to meet those targets. This allows the government to buy reductions from overseas if targets are not being met within the UK. I’m not comfortable with that at all.

  3. inel says:

    Nor am I comfortable with buying our way out of a problem. That is preferential treatment for the rich by the rich purportedly to the benefit of the poor, but I can also see it as functioning at the expense of the poor. However, with a market economy, what can you expect? I would be happier if targets were met without trading.

  4. the Grit says:

    Hi T,

    While we, here in the States, have the same problem, that being lots of relatively cheap coal and no real alternative to its use. There are plans under consideration to pump the CO2 from coal plants into underground chambers, which will most likely present new problems.

    On a side note, over here WWF is most commonly understood as standing for World Wrestling Federation 😉

    the Grit

  5. inel says:

    Hi the Grit,

    Yes, I think it’s funny that WWF has that connotation: brings to mind a logo of two pandas wrestling 😉

    I know there are problems with coal use, but I am sure they can be overcome with good effort directed to solving them. If we can figure out what to do with our own carbon sequestration (natural and artificial) fast enough, we can offer to help China too.

  6. the Grit says:

    Hi inel,

    To me, the reasonable approach, once we acknowledge that the low cost of coal use is going to mandate its inclusion in our energy plans, is to maintain our current systems in the developed countries, while exporting the new, small scale power plants to meet needs in developing countries. While the efficiency and power grid redundancy of these hot new products makes me want one, they really are a better match to the needs of less industrialized places. We can switch over as our existing infrastructure ages.

    As to the WWF, we no longer have that, although it lingers in the memories of millions of fans. They were sued over the initials by some other company and lost, so they are now the WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment. As many have mentioned, we are a most litigious society 🙂

    the Grit

  7. inel says:

    Hello the Grit,

    I know when I wore my WWF t-shirt with a large panda on the back, it attracted comments from wrestling fans 😉

    The low-cost of coal versus natural gas is the very reason the UK has missed its own carbon emissions targets, much to our own disgrace. Climate change needs to be addressed more effectively within this context.

    I would still argue that developed countries need to take the technical, financial and moral lead: we should foot the bill for developing better energy approaches and cleaning up our own backyards, while offering improved solutions for energy use for developing countries.

    In the near term, the cost of improving inefficient power plants, and phasing out inefficient products (as in Australia’s famous lightbulb case) would be insignificant compared to trundling along with “business as usual” on energy and dealing with the resulting excessive impacts of climate change on humans in the slightly longer term.

  8. earthpal says:

    Right! I think this coffee break has gone on long enough. Back to work Matty, Pete and Keith. This place has an abandoned feel to it.

  9. inel says:

    Abandoned? The Grit and I were enjoying a pleasant chat over a cup of coffee. And we were on topic, most of the time … what do you think, the Grit?

  10. earthpal says:

    Hi inel.

    Sorry….I didn’t mean to disregard your discussion here with Grit. I’ve been following it with interest. I was referring muchly to the unauthorised absence of our wonderful Coffee Shop hosts.

    Do carry on. 🙂

  11. Pete Smith says:

    Right! I think this coffee break has gone on long enough. Back to work Matty, Pete and Keith. This place has an abandoned feel to it.

    Sorry guys, you are right as usual. Time for a round of excuses. Matt is on holiday as we speak. I am preparing to go away on Saturday, plus I have taken on extra commitments which eat into my free time. And there’s also the little matter of an assignment for my Open University course that is proving a bit taxing. As for Keith … who can tell? 😎

    Please don’t abandon us. I hope to get at least one post out in the next day or so before we jet off into the sun. The trouble is I spend too much time getting posts ‘perfect’ as if they were an academic work. Matt OTOH ‘just does it’ and worries about the details later. I am striving for a happy medium.

    All the best, Pete

  12. earthpal says:

    Well have a good holiday Pete and don’t worry, we won’t forget the Coffee Shop.

  13. Pete Smith says:

    Um, that’ll be the Coffee House, I assume 😎

  14. earthpal says:

    Erm…oops. Oh yes. Oh dear. Well you could change your blog name to the Coffee Shop…just to be nice…and gallant and all…you know…to save my blushes. 😳

    Lol. Sorry, the Coffee House it is. I won’t forget the Coffee House.

    Enjoy your hols. And take care.

  15. matt says:

    Bless yo’ll for keeping conversation a humming. Much appreciated folks. I had myself a right royal holiday down at Lyme with the family. Even popped in to see the m-in-law … yikes! Looks like Pete has jetted off somewhere so I’ll happily slot back into the driving seat. 🙂

  16. inel says:

    Welcome back, matt!

    In your absence, I have been complimented by “the other matt” as you can read. I am thinking my new title would make a great song, but I have not found any lyrics to match, so shall have to write my own!

  17. inel says:

    P.S. my complimentary link up there will work if you edit the final apostrophe off the string (I have no idea where that came from …!)

  18. matt says:

    Thanks H. Link still not working!

  19. matt says:

    Got ya link now and have read your piece. It’s a raging debate inel. Maybe we should all scury under some rocks (rather than accept the truths out there). That sun is going to get increasingly nasty. Skin cancer for example is the number one killer in NZ for kids … thanks to a thinning ozone layer which in turn is caused by human pollution. Go figure folks. One way or another we’re killing our kids. It’s alarming.

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