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Cheap coal pushes up carbon emissions

An increase in coal consumption has led to a rise in carbon emissions after years of steady falls, new statistics from DECC show.

In 2012, coal produced 39% of the UK’s electricity, up from 29% in 2011. In the same period carbon emissions rose by around 4%.

The UK was the worst performing EU member state for carbon emissions, data from Eurostat showed. Only two other states saw emissions rise.

Doug Parr, chief scientific advisor at Greenpeace, said: “Old coal power plants are dominating the energy mix and far from helping us get off the coal hook, the Government's Energy Bill could entrench the situation.

“Not only are old coal plants exempt from carbon pollution limits, but the government also proposes to use money from consumer bills to pay coal plants to stay open well into the next decade. The government needs to make good on its promises and reduce our reliance on this dirty fuel.”

A spokesperson for DECC said: “International coal prices relative to gas prices mean that coal-fired power generation in the UK is currently cheaper than gas-fired.

“We have introduced the Carbon Price Floor and the measures in the Energy Bill will reduce the role that coal generation plays in our electricity system. We are also bringing forward investment in lower carbon forms of generation consistent with our decarbonisation objectives.”

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