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Britain’s had its first coal-free week for a century

Britain has gone a week without using coal power for the first time since 1882, indicating progress towards a government pledge to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2025.

The UK has had its first week without using electricity generated from burning coal since Queen Victoria was on the throne, according to reports from the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO).

Coal-fired power stations still contribute a major part in the UK’s energy system as a secondary source, but an increase in the distribution of renewable energy sources, such as wind power, means it’s required far less and has essentially become a backup during periods of high demand.

Reductions in coal use has seen the UK halve electricity generation emissions since 2013, with the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) asserting that the nation must continue in this vain and strive for a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

However, we’re still pretty far off a radical shift from coal to renewables, as we continue to substitute the burning of coal with natural gas, essentially swapping out one fossil fuel for another.

Burning gas emits about half as much carbon as coal per kWh (kilowatt) of electricity it generates which is certainly an improvement, but the UK must continue to champion new means of energy.

Prominent young activist Greta Thunberg publicly criticised Britain’s attitude towards combatting climate change last month in a rousing speech directed at the capital’s parliament. But, like us, we imagine she’ll take encouragement from last weekend’s milestone, with the hope it will motivate the nation and the rest of the world to strive for a cleaner planet.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark, hailed the ‘achievement’ claiming, ‘The UK is on a path to becoming the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions’.

Let’s hope this wasn’t just a blip, it could be a catalyst for serious change and could inspire other nations to adopt cleaner means of energy production in the future… Finally, a climate change story that’s not doom and gloom!

 

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