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May was the greenest month ever in UK

May 2020 was the greenest ever for the UK electricity supply as 28% of the UK’s electricity was supplied by renewables and for 54 consecutive days no coal fired plants were used at all. The result was that the average carbon intensity per unit of electricity decreased to 143 grams carbon dioxide from the 2019 average of 250 grams. On 24 May, the lowest carbon intensity ever was recorded of 46 grams. Decarbonising the electricity grid will significantly reduce the average carbon footprint per person. [Guardian 3 June]

However the UK’s Committee for Climate Change in its annual report to Parliament observed that the UK was falling behind in its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions and that the recovery from Covid 19 pandemic created an opportunity for creating green jobs like insulating buildings, switching to electric vehicles and improving broad band coverage so more people could work from home. [Guardian 26 June]

New record temperatures in Siberia

While the average global temperature rise since 1750 (start of Industrial Revolution) was just above 1.0 C, a prolonged heat wave in Siberia has seen a temperature rise by up to 30 C. This increase is primarily due to ocean currents carrying heat towards the polar regions and melting of ice and snow which reflects radiation rather than absorbs it. Apart from other impacts, thawing of the permafrost could release pockets of methane gas which is a strong greenhouse gas.

World has only six months to reduce its carbon emissions

In the annual report of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, its executive director, warned that the world has only six months in which to begin reducing its carbon emissions permanently to prevent irreversible changes in climate. He stated that ‘This year is the last time we have if we are not to see a carbon rebound (after the Covid 19 pandemic)’.

In its first global blueprint for a green recovery, the Agency suggested focussing on wind and solar power together with energy efficiency improvements to buildings and industries and modernisation of electricity grids to better manage distributed renewable power sources. The Agency observed that targeting green jobs was more effective than pouring money into a high carbon economy [Guardian 18 June]

Air pollution below normal despite increase in traffic

Analysis of recent air pollution data in the UK has shown that air pollution has decreased even though traffic flows are near normal. One possible reason in that even a small decrease in traffic results in a significant decrease in air pollution because of the reduction in congestion in urban areas. As air pollution can result in respiratory illnesses, reducing pollution may also decrease the impact of Covid 19 virus as it is also affects the respiratory system. [Guardian 14 July]



 

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