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Analysis: UK emissions in 2023 fell to lowest level since 1879

(CarbonBrief, 11 Mar 2024) The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 5.7% in 2023 to their lowest level since 1879, according to new Carbon Brief analysis.

The last time UK emissions were this low, Queen Victoria was on the throne, Benjamin Disraeli was prime minister, Mosley Street in Newcastle became the first road in the world with electric lighting and 59 people died in the Tay Bridge disaster in Dundee.

Carbon Brief’s analysis, based on preliminary government energy data, shows emissions fell to just 383m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2023. This is the first time they have dropped below 400MtCO2e since Victorian times.

Other key findings from the analysis include:

  • The UK’s emissions are now 53% below 1990 levels, while GDP has grown by 82%.
  • The drop in emissions in 2023 was largely due to an 11% fall in gas demand. This was due to higher electricity imports after the French nuclear fleet recovered, above-average temperatures and weak underlying demand driven by high prices.
  • Gas demand would have fallen even faster, but for a 15% fall in UK nuclear output.
  • Coal use fell by 23% in 2023 to its lowest level since the 1730s, as all but one of the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations closed down.
  • Transport was the single-largest sector in terms of emissions, followed by buildings industry, agriculture and electricity generation. The electricity sector likely dropped below agriculture for the first time.

External link

CarbonBrief, 11 Mar 2024: Analysis: UK emissions in 2023 fell to lowest level since 1879