What’s Going On Here?
2017 saw UK CO2 emissions drop to 1890 levels… yes Eighteen Ninety, back when the population was half the size and Queen Victoria was still strutting her stuff.
The drop in CO2 emissions is the result of a 19% cut in COAL usage from 2016 levels. WoooWooo (or not in the case of train travel). Less coal use has seen an increase in the use of other energy sources, including natural gas, oil, and renewables.
What Does This Mean?
OIL and GAS release less CO2 per KW of energy produced, as they have a greater Hydrogen: Carbon ratio. We can see this in the chemical formula. General rule below Hydrogen (H) Good – Carbon (C) Bad.
Coal [CH]n << Oil [CH2]n << Natural Gas CH4 << Hydrogen H2
Coal is also “dirtier” than the others, containing other materials which burn to give off even more serious chemicals such as SOx & NOx (Sulphur and Nitrogen based pollutants), especially harmful to human lungs.
Why Should We Care?
Things from a UK CO2 perspective are improving, but you don’t have to look very far to see the opposite trend. In fact, the forecast for Global emissions 2017 is at 2% growth year-on-year.
Countries such as China & India are growing and their CO2 emissions mirror this trend… But we can’t point fingers or sit on our high horse because UK consumption is heavily reliant on these countries, and UK demand stimulates a significant proportion of these emissions.
We need to think about where the stuff we buy is made and how it is transported to us. Last weeks story on Fast Fashion highlighted how easy it is to buy cheap without seeing the consequences. Luckily keeping an eye on our carbon footprint is getting easier with plenty of online calculators including that of our partner Rainforest Concern. On a small scale, the quickest way you can make an impact is to Be The Change You Want To See In The World by being a conscientious consumer.
On a big scale, one of the most effective ways to make an impact is through large international political decisions & you can start by getting in touch with your local politicians. They manage things like cycle lanes, eco-education & have the opportunity to adopt a low-carbon approach to the goods and services they buy on our behalf.