A recent report from the Committee of Climate Change says the UK should lead the global fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050.
The UK should lead the global fight against climate change, says a recent report from the Committee of Climate Change, maintaining that this can be done at no extra cost from previous estimates.
Global average temperature has already risen by 1°C from pre-industrial levels, driving significant changes in our climate. In the last ten years, pledges to reduce emissions from around the world have reduced the forecast of global warming from above 4°C by the end of the century to around 3°C. Cutting greenhouse gases in the UK to nearly zero would lead the global effort to further limit the rise to 1.5°C.
Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said:
“We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response. The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part – we explain how in our new report – but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted. The Government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”
The CCC said it that while we would not be able to hit these targets any sooner, 2050 was an extremely significant goal. One of the main changes, allowing this new target, is the huge drop in the cost of renewable energy prompted by government policies to nurture solar and wind power.
So how do we reach zero emissions?
The target is for “net zero“ emissions by 2050, which means balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal. Ultimately we will need to significantly cut the amount of CO2 we put in the atmosphere.
Up until now, the target had been to reduce emissions by 80% compared with 1990 levels by 2050.
What does this mean for the public?
The reports suggests that achieving zero emissions depends on low-carbon technologies and changes to industry, and public behaviour.
Recommendations for the public include:
- Home heating – rather controversially the report recommends that we turn down our thermostat to 19C in winter. We also need to insulate our homes much better. Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to traditional sources, extracting heat from the air or ground and delivering it to your home. Converting natural gas boilers to hydrogen ones will also be an option.
- Flying – the number of flights we take is growing each year, and the report predicts that government action will be needed to constrain the growth.
- Cars – the report suggests that eventually we will be driving electric cars
- Meat – the report says people can reduce their diet-related emissions by 35% if they transition from a high-meat diet to a low-meat one
- Waste – bio-degradable waste should not be sent to landfill after 2025 which would mean we all need to seperate our food waste from other rubbish
Can we achieve these ambitious targets? We would love to hear what you think.
*Source: BBC News Science & Environment
**Visit the Committee for Climate Change website to find out more and view the technical report.