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 WWF says that the “dash for gas” of the early 1990s has been replaced by a de facto “roll to coal”.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.