The UK Sees Lowest Per-Capita Energy Generation Since 1984

CC BY-SA 2.0. Matthew Blackley

It's not just renewables that are driving down emissions.

We've talked a lot about the fact that the UK now has more renewable energy generating capacity than it does fossil fuels—often within the context of discussing Britain's Victorian era-levels of emissions.

But it's not just the switch to renewables (and natural gas) that is driving down pollution. It's also—and actually more significantly—that UK energy demand and production has fallen overall. In fact, as Simon Evans over at Carbon Brief points out, the 103 terawatt hours (TWh) of reduction in energy generated since 2005 actually outstrips the 95TWh increase in renewables during that same time. And it does so despite the fact that the economy has grown:

The UK trend since 2005 breaks with the economic orthodoxy that a growing economy must be fuelled by rising electricity use. Instead, the economy has continued to grow even as electricity generation has levelled off and then started to decline...

It will be interesting to see whether the decline continues, particularly if the UK's long-promised switch to electric modes of transport finally kicks into high gear. But clearly, for that revolution to happen in as sustainable way as possible, we'd need to be driving down overall energy demand and ramping up renewable energy production at the same time.

Check and check, as far as the UK is concerned.

Still, there is a long way to go. But it's a promising sign, and a trend that has also manifested itself on this side of the Atlantic too, albeit in not such a pronounced fashion just yet.

Here's hoping it picks up speed.