By Jessica Corbett
Following in the footsteps of leaders in Milan and New York City who are heeding global calls to #BuildBackBetter from the coronavirus pandemic, London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday unveiled plans to create "one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world" to improve local air quality and encourage more walking and cycling.
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Britain announced that it will ban sales of new diesel and gasoline powered cars in 15 years last week. That was five years earlier than expected, but necessary for the UK to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a statement from the prime minister's office, as CNN reported.
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Just as the United Kingdom made its formal exit from the European Union, Boris Johnson added some turmoil to the international climate conference that Britain will host later this year in Glasgow. He fired Claire O'Neill, the former Energy minister and president of COP26, as the BBC reported.
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The UK instituted the world's toughest ban on ivory last year which eliminated all sales of ivory and rankled collectors and dealers. Antique dealers sued in court to be able to continue to sell existing ivory and argued that the ban violated European law. The high court in the UK, however, struck down that argument earlier this week and said the UK's ban is fully legal, as The Guardian reported.
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By Simon Evans
During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows.
Transformative Decade<p>At the start of this decade in 2010, the 288TWh generated from fossil fuels accounted for around three-quarters of the UK total. It was also <a href="http://interactive.carbonbrief.org//how-uk-transformed-electricity-supply-decade/#" target="_blank">more than 10 times</a> as much electricity as the 26TWh that came from renewables.</p><p>Since then, electricity generation from renewable sources has more than quadrupled – and <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-electricity-generation-2018-falls-to-lowest-since-1994" target="_blank">demand has fallen</a> – leaving fossil fuels with a shrinking share of the total.</p><p>This shift is shown in the chart below, with the declining quarterly output from power stations burning coal, oil and gas in blue and rising generation from renewables in red.</p><p>(The quarterly chart also reflects the seasons, with demand higher in winter and lower in summer. Wind farm output is well matched with this cycle, as it tends to be windier in winter.)</p><iframe scrolling="no" frameborder="0" marginheight="0px" marginwidth="0px" style="display: initial; margin: 0 auto;" src="https://cbhighcharts2019.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/q3-2019-electricity/renewables-beating-fossil-fuels-uk.html" width="800px" height="550px"></iframe><span style="display:block; height:22px; max-width:800px;"><img src="https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/cbhighcharts2019/cb-logo-highcharts.svg" style="width: 22px; height: 22px; margin-top: 2px; margin-bottom: 2px; float:right; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-size: contain;"/></span>
New Capacity<p>Over the past year, the most significant reason for rising renewable generation has been an increase in capacity as new offshore wind farms have opened. The 1,200 megawatt (MW) Hornsea One project <a href="https://www.powerengineeringint.com/2019/10/04/final-turbines-installed-at-hornsea-1/" target="_blank">was completed</a> in October, becoming the world's largest offshore wind farm. The 588MW Beatrice offshore wind farm was completed in <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/835114/Renewables_September_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Q2 of this year</a>.</p><p>These schemes add to the <a href="https://www.renewableuk.com/page/UKWEDSearch" target="_blank">more than 2,100MW</a> of offshore capacity that started operating during 2018. Further capacity is already being built, including the 714MW East Anglia One project that <a href="https://www.offshorewind.biz/2019/09/12/east-anglia-one-generates-first-power/" target="_blank">started generating electricity</a> this year and will be completed in 2020.</p><p>In total, government contracts for offshore wind will take capacity from nearly 8,500MW today to around 20,000MW by the mid-2020s. The government and industry are jointly aiming for at least 30,000MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, with two further contract auctions already expected.</p><p>In September, the latest auction round produced <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-record-low-uk-offshore-wind-cheaper-than-existing-gas-plants-by-2023" target="_blank">record-low deals</a> for offshore wind farms that will generate electricity more cheaply than expected market prices – and potentially below the cost of running existing gas plants.</p><p>Other contributors to the recent increase in renewable generation include the opening of the 420MW Lynemouth biomass plant in Northumberland last year and the addition of hundreds of megawatts of new onshore wind and solar farms. (Another new 299MW biomass plant being built on Teesside, with a <a href="https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/hundreds-laid-tees-energy-plant-16669866" target="_blank">scheduled opening</a> in early 2020, is <a href="https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/unite-demands-urgent-answers-after-16723624" target="_blank">facing "major delays"</a>.)</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-business-energy-and-industrial-strategy" target="_blank">Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy</a> (BEIS), the rise in renewable output during the <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/835114/Renewables_September_2019.pdf" target="_blank">first</a> <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20190724204007/https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/811971/Electricity_June_2019.pdf" target="_blank">half</a> of 2019 was down to these increases in capacity, with weather conditions not unusual for the time of year.</p>
Consecutive Months<p>Carbon Brief's electricity-sector analysis shows that renewables are also estimated to have generated more electricity than fossil fuels during the individual months of August and September, the first time there have been two consecutive such months.</p><p>Previously, renewables beat fossil fuels in September 2018 – the first-ever whole month – and then again in March 2019. This means that there have only ever been four months where renewables outpaced fossil generation, of which three have been this year and two in the last two months.</p><p>This is shown in the chart, below, which also highlights the greater month-to-month variability in electricity generation and demand, which is overlaid on top of the broader seasonal cycles.</p><iframe scrolling="no" frameborder="0" marginheight="0px" marginwidth="0px" style="display: initial; margin: 0 auto;" src="https://cbhighcharts2019.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/q3-2019-electricity/renewables-fossils-monthly.html" width="800px" height="550px"></iframe><span style="display:block; height:22px; max-width:800px;"><img src="https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/cbhighcharts2019/cb-logo-highcharts.svg" style="width: 22px; height: 22px; margin-top: 2px; margin-bottom: 2px; float:right; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-size: contain;"/></span>
Methodology<p>The figures in the article are from Carbon Brief analysis of data from <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/electricity-section-5-energy-trends" target="_blank">BEIS Energy Trends chapter 5</a> and <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-trends-section-6-renewables" target="_blank">chapter 6</a>, as well as from <a href="https://www.bmreports.com/" target="_blank">BM Reports</a>. The figures from BM Reports are for electricity supplied to the grid in Great Britain only and are adjusted to include Northern Ireland.<br></p><p>In Carbon Brief's analysis, the BM Reports numbers are also adjusted to account for electricity used by power plants on site and for generation by plants not connected to the high-voltage national grid. This includes many onshore wind farms, as well as industrial gas combined heat and power plants and those burning landfill gas, waste or sewage gas.</p><p>By design, the Carbon Brief analysis is intended to align as closely as possible to the official government figures on electricity generated in the UK, reported in <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/834120/ET_5.1.xls" target="_blank">BEIS Energy Trends table 5.1</a>. Briefly, the raw data for each fuel is adjusted with a multiplier, derived from the ratio between the reported BEIS numbers and unadjusted figures for previous quarters.</p><p>Carbon Brief's method of analysis has been verified against published BEIS figures using "<a href="https://www.definitions.net/definition/HINDCAST" target="_blank">hindcasting</a>". This shows the estimates for total electricity generation from fossil fuels or renewables to have been within ±3% of the BEIS number in each quarter since Q4 2017. (Data before then is not sufficient to carry out the Carbon Brief analysis.)</p><p>For example, in the second quarter of 2019, a Carbon Brief hindcast estimates gas generation at 33.1TWh, whereas the published BEIS figure was 34.0TWh. Similarly, it produces an estimate of 27.4TWh for renewables, against a BEIS figure of 27.1TWh.</p><p>The Carbon Brief estimated totals for fossil fuels and renewables are very close in Q3 2019, coming within 0.5TWh of each other. This means that despite the relatively low level of uncertainty in the estimates, their relative position could be reversed in the official BEIS data.</p><p>This serves to emphasize the fact that the broader trend of decline for fossil fuels and an increase for renewables is of far greater significance than the precise figures for any individual quarter.</p><p>In contrast to Carbon Brief's analysis, figures published by consultancy <a href="https://www.enappsys.com/" target="_blank">EnAppSys</a> for the third quarter of 2019 <a href="https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/42d1d7_05a6259d8486422e9783a3d852bb4537.pdf" target="_blank">suggest that</a> fossil fuels generated slightly more electricity than renewables. There are several reasons for this difference.</p><p>First, the company's analysis is for Great Britain only, whereas Carbon Brief's covers the UK overall. Second, it reports on electricity "supplied" in the country, including imports, whereas Carbon Brief estimates the amount of electricity "generated" within the UK only.</p><p>Third, Carbon Brief's analysis is, by design, aligned with the quarterly <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/energy-trends" target="_blank">BEIS Energy Trends</a> data for electricity generation, whereas EnAppSys uses its own approach.</p><p>For comparison, <a href="https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/42d1d7_3ffce1328967400f97678b53bc4e8b55.pdf" target="_blank">EnAppSys reported</a> for the second quarter of 2019 that 28.3TWh was supplied in GB from gas, whereas <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/electricity-section-5-energy-trends" target="_blank">BEIS reports</a> that 34.0TWh was generated in the UK. Similarly EnAppSys reported 23.1TWh coming from renewables, against a BEIS figure of 27.1TWh.</p>
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By Dan Nosowitz
A hot-button issue in the UK focuses on something most Americans don't even know about: a particular method of disinfecting raw poultry.
Europe is gearing up for another extreme heat wave that could set all-time records for several European countries.
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Theresa May, the outgoing UK prime minister, used her final appearance at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan to urge other nations to follow her country's lead in aggressively lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Britain has a new goal to reach net zero carbon emissions, making it the first G7 country to implement such a target.
The UK parliament became the first national legislative body in the world to declare a climate change "emergency" Wednesday. The historic move closely follows Extinction Rebellion protests that blocked traffic in key parts of central London for a week in April.
One UK store's attempt to fight plastic pollution has turned out to be a smashing success.
Last year, supermarket chain Iceland became the first UK retailer to install "reverse vending machines" that allow customers to return plastic bottles purchased at the store and receive a 10 pence voucher in return. The program has proved popular, according to figures published Wednesday and reported by The Guardian. Customers had returned 311,500 bottles to date.
It would appear that the resurgence of fracking in the UK is on very shaky ground. A company called Cuadrilla restarted the controversial technique at a site in Lancashire, in Northwest England, just two months ago after a seven year hiatus. But it spent a month of that time doing tests with smaller volumes of water after a series of small earthquakes in October, The Guardian reported.