In the News

Coal use in the UK on the decline

Joanne Parkinson

10th August 2020

Coal consumption has dropped to its lowest amount in 250 years. Consumption at its peak in the mid twentieth century was at 250 million tonnes. The decline has come about due to alternative energy sources (such as North Sea oil) having been discovered as well as the environmental benefit of moving away from coal as a major fuel source. However, the role of this fuel source shouldn't be ignored, with it being credited with making the UK the country that it is today; having revolutionised industrial output and trade for the country.

The UK was the first country to start burning coal to supply energy and many countries have followed that lead with some still using it in large amounts today- namely China, Germany and Poland.

However, the decline in coal use in the UK has occurred rapidly and this is mainly down to the recognition of its environmental impact; in particular, how it has contributed to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Yellow smog hung over cities and its impact on visibility as well as health was becoming a concern. This environmental impact was seen in 1952 with the "Great smog of London" where London was covered for 5 days and it killed thousands of people. Following the event; in 1956, the Clean Air Act was created and this led to other fuels being used more widely, rather than coal.

For more on the growth and decline of coal, read the following article:

Joanne Parkinson

An experienced, outstanding Geography teacher, GCSE examiner and Head of Humanities in a 11-18 school. I'm passionate about all geographical events and am a keen blogger.

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