By October 2024, the UK will stop using coal generated power, a year earlier than expected.
In 2019, the U.K. passed a law to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and has been inviting other countries to commit to coal phaseout dates, in preparation of the United Nations climate summit being held in Scotland in November.
In 2020, coal accounted for only 1.8% of the country’s electricity, in comparison to around 40% a decade ago. Now, about 43% of the UK’s electricity is being sourced from wind and solar technologies, according to the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“Coal powered the industrial revolution 200 years ago, but now is the time for radical action to completely eliminate this dirty fuel from our energy system,” Energy and Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement. Plans are to stop coal use “at the earliest opportunity” through legislation, but it will only apply to the electricity industry.
Leaders of the Group of Seven nations agreed last month at a summit in Cornwall to end financial support for international coal power generation without carbon capture by the end of the year and to move toward an “overwhelmingly” decarbonized power system by the 2030s (Climatewire, June 14).
However, some domestic policies in countries like the US and Japan have made it harder to set a date to finalize coal use. On the other hand, Germany has already passed a law to end coal-fired power generation by 2038. Coal is one of the main sources in the growth of emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, but as mining costs have surged, many countries are adopting firmer policies to reduce GHG emissions.
In order to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, coal needs to be out of use worldwide by 2040.