LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 6 percent in 2016 compared with 2015 levels, largely due to a decline in coal-fired power generation and marking the fourth straight yearly drop, preliminary government data showed on Thursday.
Output of the heat-trapping gases in Europe’s second-largest emitter behind Germany fell to 466 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said.
Thursday’s data shows Britain’s GHG emissions have fallen 42 percent since 1990, meaning it is half way towards meeting a legally binding target to cut its GHG emissions by 2050 to 80 percent below 1990 levels.
A breakdown of the 2016 figures showed emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas blamed for climate change, dropped 7 percent to 374 million tonnes.
Energy-sector CO2 emissions fell by 18.7 percent as coal-fired power production fell, and was replaced by low carbon renewables such as wind and biomass plants which burn wood pellets instead of coal.
Britain plans to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025 unless they are fitted with technology to capture and store carbon emissions.
Britain has reaffirmed its commitment to the international Paris Agreement climate pact since United States president Donald Trump this week began undoing Obama-era plans for deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
“The UK government’s commitment to tackling global climate change is as strong as ever. We play a leading role internationally and we are delivering on our commitments,” a spokeswoman for BEIS said.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, governments pledged to limit a rise in average temperatures to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, to stave off the worst effects of climate change such as droughts and rising sea levels.
Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Editing by David Evans and Edmund Blair