The UK government are asking climate change experts for their advice on whether the UK should set a date for achieving net zero carbon emissions as they look to set stricter carbon reduction targets.
Currently, the UK has a target of cutting emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 but it is now thought this isn’t enough to meet pledges made under the Paris climate agreement.
The move comes in response to research which shows that the original commitment to limit global temperature rises to 2°C isn’t enough; to avoid the irreversible impact of global warming this number needs to be revised to 1.5°C.
The independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will give their thoughts on when the UK could realistically achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions with a roadmap that will include:
- Whether the target of cutting emissions by at least 80% by 2050 needs to be reviewed
- Setting a date for achieving net zero emissions across the economy (transport, industry and agriculture)
- How emissions could be reduced
- Expected costs and benefits of doing so.
What does ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emissions Mean?
‘Net zero’ carbon emissions basically means having a carbon neutral footprint i.e. where the carbon emissions caused by the UK are balanced out by finding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.
To achieve net zero emissions, greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere by human activity need to be reduced until the total output is no greater than the emissions removed – effectively canceling each other out. There are a few ways this can be done:
- Planting carbon forests
- Reducing deforestation
- Carbon capture and storage (technology that can capture up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions in industrial processes)
What the Government Said
Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “To ensure that we continue to lead from the front, we are asking the experts to advise on targets for net zero emissions.”
Claire Perry, the Energy and Clean Growth Minister, has spoken about the need for governments, businesses and communities to do more when it comes to addressing the impact of climate change:
“We’re asking the independent climate experts of the CCC for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so. The case for tackling climate change is starker than ever before.”
What is the Paris Climate Agreement?
A single agreement between the nations of the world to tackle climate change. Almost 200 countries are involved as they aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global temperatures from rising.
What Does this Mean for Homeowners?
To achieve the targets, drastic changes will have to be made to transport, buildings and daily lifestyles. To make your day-to-day life more efficient, there are several things you can do:
- Adopt renewable energy
- Drive an electric car
- Eat less meat.
Heating your home with renewable energy rather than fossil fuels like natural gas, oil or coal could not only make your home more efficient but should reduce your energy bills too. By installing solar panels, an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump, you could become more self-sufficient and reduce your reliance on your energy supplier. Explore ways you can increase the efficiency of your home with our renewables advice.