The UK was the driving force in the overall reduction of emissions across the European Union in 2016, thanks in a large part to the switch to gas-fired power plants.

Carbon Brief reports that Europe’s power-sector CO2 emissions fell 4.5 per cent last year.

The figures, jointly published by the thinktanks Sandbag and Agora Energiewende show coal-fired power generation across the EU falling by 94 terawatt hours (TWh), down 12 per cent on a year earlier. Gas output was up 101TWh, a 20 per cent increase.
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The coal-to-gas switch was enough to reduce EU power-sector CO2 emissions by 4.5 per cent, to 1,018m tonnes of CO2 in 2016, the analysis says.

The UK was responsible for half of the decrease in coal generation and half the increase in gas, with Germany and Spain each contributing around another 15 per cent of the coal cut in 2016.

The analysts reported that the coal to gas switch occurred due to the closure of old coal plants in the UK, the impact of the UK’s carbon price floor, a market response to cheaper gas prices and gas filling in for falling output from nuclear and hydro.

Over the longer term both coal and gas have declined as renewables grow in share.