Britain’s carbon tax has led to a 93 per cent drop in the use of coal-fired electricity since it was first rolled out back in 2013, a report has found.
This decreasing reliance on coal — which accelerated after the tax was raised back in 2018 — has seen the UK make use of less emission-heavy power sources like gas.
Energy was also supplied from renewable sources and imports from Europe.
Experts from the University of Cambridge and University College London (UCL) also found that the tax increased household electricity bills by £39 on average in 2018.
This is believed to have collected around £740 million for Her Majesty’s Treasury.
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Britain’s carbon tax has led to a 93 per cent drop in the use of coal-fired electricity since it was first rolled out back in 2013, a report has found (stock image)
The tax — called ‘Carbon Price Support’ — was introduced in England, Scotland and Wales in 2013 at a rate of £4.94 per tonne of carbon-dioxide equivalent.
It has since been increased, reaching £18 per tonne of carbon-dioxide equivalent in 2015, at which it has been capped until the year 2021.
The tax forms one part of the so-called ‘Total Carbon Price’, which also included the cost of European Union Emissions Trading System permits.
In the study, researchers investigated how the tax impacted the flow of electricity to connected countries and the revenue from the giant so-called ‘interconnector’ power cables that run between different countries between 2015 and 2018.
During this period — which followed the increase in the tax — the share of coal-fired electricity generation in the UK fell from 28 per cent in 2015 to 5 per cent in 2018, reaching just 3 per cent by the September of 2019.
This figure had been 40 per cent prior to the tax’s introduction in 2013, when the UK generated 13.1 terawatt hours of coal-derived power — a figure that by last year had decreased to 0.97 terawatt hours.
‘Great Britain’s electricity transition is a monumental achievement of global interest,’ said UCL energy expert Michael Grubb.
The shift, he added, ‘has also demonstrated the power of an effective carbon price in lowering dependence on electricity generated from coal.’
The share of coal-fired electricity generation in the UK fell from 28 per cent in 2015 to 5 per cent in 2018, reaching just 3 per cent by the September of 2019
‘The Carbon Price Support provides a clear signal to our neighbours of its efficacy at reducing CO2 emissions,’ commented lead report author and University of Cambridge economist David Newbery.
‘Should EU countries also adopt a high carbon tax we would likely see huge carbon emission reductions throughout the Continent, as we’ve seen in Great Britain over the last few years,’ added project leader Giorgio Castagneto-Gissey of UCL.
At present, the EU’s electricity sector is one that remains carbon-intense, with around 21 per cent of its power being derived from coal-fired plants.
This decreasing reliance on coal — which accelerated after the tax was raised back in 2018 — has seen the UK make use of less emission-heavy power sources like gas
The researchers did note that the price impact of the carbon tax for consumers was mitigated by an increase in the importing of electricity from Europe, whose electricity is not subject to the carbon tax.
Instead, some of the cost was paid for through an increase in continental electricity prices — in particular in France and the Netherlands.
‘The Carbon Price Support has been instrumental in driving coal off the grid, but we show how it also creates distortions to cross-border trade, making a case for EU-wide adoption,’ said report author Bowei Guo of the University of Cambridge.
Both the findings of the report on international electricity trading and an annex to the report focusing on the impact of the Carbon Price Support on British energy bills were published on the UCL website.
WHAT ARE THE UK’S PLANS FOR ‘NET ZERO’ CARBON EMISSIONS?
Plans for the UK to become ‘carbon’ neutral by 2050 were released by Theresa May‘s government on June 12, 2019.
However, experts are concerned over how the proposals will work.
The report commits to ensuring that the emissions generated by the UK are offset by removing the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.
There are two main ways this can be achieved – by planting more trees and by installing ‘carbon capture’ technology at the source of the pollution.
Some critics are worried that this first option will be used by the government to export it’s carbon offsetting to other countries.
International carbon credits let nations continue emitting carbon while paying for trees to be planted elsewhere, balancing out their emissions.
Some argue that the scheme is a way for developed nations to shirk their environmental obligations, by passing them to poor and developing countries.