UK enters top ten global ranking for clean electricity

Britain’s electricity is now the 7th cleanest in the world after its “unparalleled” halving of CO2 emissions from power generation between 2012 and 2016.

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That is according to new research by Imperial College London, which shows the country climbed 13 places in the global rankings during that time – more than any other nation.

This was largely due to the UK’s ‘carbon price’ charge on greenhouse gas emissions driving an uptake in renewables, as well as a shift away from coal to gas-fired power generation.

“Britain is reducing its carbon emissions from electricity faster than any other major country,” Imperial College London scientist, Dr Iain Staffell, said.

“This has happened because the carbon price and lower gas prices have forced coal off the system – the amount of coal-fired power generation in Britain has fallen 80% between 2012 and 2016.”

The carbon price is set by the government, and ensures power generators in the UK are charged £23 per tonne of CO2 produced, compared with £5 in the rest of Europe.

The six countries with lower carbon electricity benefited from substantial hydropower or nuclear energy, with Norway topping the table, followed by Sweden, France, Canada, Brazil and Venezuela.

South Africa is ranked bottom on the list of 33 countries that produce over 100 TWh of electricity per year, followed by India, with 75-90% of these two countries’ power generated by coal.

The research was carried out in collaboration with electricity company Drax Power, revealing that the second biggest movers on the list were the Netherlands, which fell eight places in the table.

This was largely due to coal generation increasing 40% in the country between 2012 and 2016, with Drax Power CEO, Andy Koss, urging chancellor Philip Hammond not to reverse successful climate policy in his autumn budget this Wednesday.

“The analysis shows quite clearly the impact Britain’s carbon price has had in terms of helping to ensure we produce cleaner power for the UK’s homes and businesses,” Koss continued.

“It’s therefore vital that we maintain a meaningful carbon price when the chancellor announces the autumn budget if we are to meet our commitments on climate change.”

“Without it we could see a reversal of the impressive results achieved so far – look at what’s happened elsewhere.”

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