As most people know, the UK have set goals on net zero by 2050. This means no coal, oil, natural gas or any other harmful emission based energy sources. It is an ambitious goal, especially when considering the challenges most countries face with decarbonisation.

Though the government has yet to discuss their detailed targets to meet this goal, the CCC have suggested how the UK could achieve this goal. They have suggested cutting annual emissions by around 93% from the levels in 1990. This is a huge task and is 13% more than the requirement from the 2008 Climate Change Act. They have outlined how this could be possible:

  • According to the CCC the target can be reached largely by producing energy with non-carbon energy sources.
  • The CO2 that is being released currently will need to be captured or extracted from the atmosphere.
  • Engineered removals like counteracting residual CO2 emissions from international flights or compensate for remaining emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases.
  • Planting trees in hopes of extracting as much CO2 as possible, this technique is also called Afforestation.

 

So what is being done with these recommendations?

 

Currently, the government has not adopted all of the CCC’s ideas and recommendations. They have also argued that the UK must not increase emissions overseas on its behalf. Another idea that the government has not yet considered or implemented into their strategy for their target. The CCC have discussed of the UK increases emissions abroad:

  • it is well known that the production and transport of goods and services imported from other countries result in significant emissions.
  • The CCC insist that in order to truly meet the net zero target the UK must not increase it’s ‘consumption emissions’.
  • Although they do state that it will be much more difficult to do this compared to territorial consumption.
  • Reducing our ‘consumption emissions’ may need to rely on international agreements with other governments.

 

Unfortunately, the UK reaching this target will only have a limited impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. Though competition between countries could lead toward innovations in a new age of clean and renewable technology.

We are already seeing this with the race to fully electric vehicles with most car companies announcing their electric models to compete with Tesla. Though the UK was the only major economy to commit to net zero, France and Germany.

Globally, we account for 1% of greenhouse gases. Under the leadership of Donald Trump, the United States- who contribute 15%- have recently withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. Other countries have also had CO2 emissions grow in 2018. China and India increase their emissions by 4.7% and 6.3%, despite having policies restricting growth.

Much of the information at the start of the blog post is courtesy of the BBC Energy Brief.

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