United Kingdom goes one full week without using coal power for first time since 1882

For the first time in 137 years, the United Kingdom generated 100 percent of their electricity used in a week without relying on coal power, an achievement that serves as a example for the rest of the globe.

For too long, industrialized nations have relied on fossil fuels such as coal to produce electricity, pumping tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the process.

In fact, so much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere right now that merely planting more trees won’t save us. And even that effort is being undermined by record deforestation.

But if we reverse deforestation and immediately transition to relying on renewable energy sources for our power needs, we can make serious progress in the fight against climate change.

That’s what the United Kingdom did this week by not using coal power for the first time since before activating their first coal fired plant in 1882.

For an entire week, the United Kingdom relied solely on alternative energy sources for electrical power, proving that a net-zero carbon society is possible.

The goal is to eliminate carbon by 2025, just six years away.

“Zero-carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate – integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic-scale solar panels to increased demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time,” National Grid ESO Director Fintan Slye told The Guardian. “As more and more renewables come on to our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence. We believe that by 2025, we will be able to fully operate Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon.”

RenewableUK deputy CEO Emma Pinchbeck hailed the progress and pointed to wind energy as the main factor.

“Wind has become a mainstream power source for the UK, providing up to 35% of our electricity over the weekend,” she said. “Renewables have been crucial to phasing out dirty coal. The coal phase out is just the beginning of a move away from fossil fuels to low carbon living, to avoid the enormous risks of climate disruption. Last week, the Committee on Climate Change said we can only achieve net-zero emissions with a massive increase in renewables.”

Indeed, Committee on Climate Change chief executive Chris Stark urged lawmakers to do whatever is necessary to achieve the 2025 goal, especially in the wake of a devastating report by the United Nations that one million species are threatened with extinction because of humans.

“We will need to throw everything at this challenge, including onshore wind and solar,” Stark told the committee. “Anything that makes it harder is really not in line with the net-zero challenge overall.”

Energy Secretary Greg Clark, however, expressed confidence that the United Kingdom will reach the goal and will lead the way in dealing with climate change.

“We lead the world when it comes to tackling climate change and we want to carry on breaking records, which is why we’ve put foundations in place to allow our renewables sector to thrive,” he said. “We’re now on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.”

More definitely needs to be done, but it sounds like the United Kingdom is taking climate change seriously and has made fighting it a national goal, unlike the United States, which withdrew from the Paris climate accord and is ignoring renewable energy sources while favoring fossil fuels.

In the end, the United Kingdom is not enough to reverse the negative impact of climate change if other industrialized nations, especially large nations such as the United States and China, refuse to act.

Net-zero carbon should be a global goal.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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