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Progress on emissions

Summary

Assessment of Emissions in GB

One of the cornerstones of the route to Net Zero is the reduction in emissions, which is generally measured by carbon intensity.

Since 1990 UK emissions have declined steadily in an apparently promising trajectory towards Net Zero.

There have been various studies of this, but there is general agreement that the reduction in the use of coal to generate electricity has been a key factor in the reduction so far. Although coal is still used for generation in 2021, its use has been greatly reduced. This means that we no longer have the "low hanging fruit" of coal to continue the reduction, so carbon intensity has levelled out.

However, with the reduction in the use of coal it has been necessary to rely more heavily on the use of CCGT Gas to counter the intermittency if wind in particular.

The continued reliance on fossil fuels to counteract the intermittency of renewable sources make it difficult to see how the target reduction on emissions can be achieved.

Last updated June 2021

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(Graph based on National Grid data.)