Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050


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The columns show which greenhouse gases are covered, the net-zero year and the current status of the plan, as well as the approach to offsets and international aviation and shipping. Green indicates that all GHGs are covered, and marks an explicit aim to meet the target without using credits and to incorporate international aviation and shipping. Red indicates an explicit allowance for offsetting, or excluding aviation and shipping from the commitment. Amber indicates a lack of certainty.

Meanwhile, France has a climate plan that would include a net-zero greenhouse gas target of and is working on a bill to come before its parliament in the spring. New Zealand is currently drafting a bill of its own, which may still include offsetting and exclude the most heavily polluting forms of transport.

The European Commission has proposed a net-zero target for that does not include any use of carbon credits, but also does not explicitly state the inclusion of aviation and shipping.


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This is not yet a legislative proposal, but has been supported by the European Parliament. Other nations, ranging from Iceland to the Marshall Islands, have set mid-century net-zero targets in the strategy documents and nationally determined contributions NDCs they have submitted to the UN. However, such targets are not enshrined in law. It would establish a clear pathway to total net-zero within an ambitious timeframe, which does not rely on carbon offsets and accounts for aviation and shipping.

This, they say, would be the latest in a long line of trend-setting commitments. Since then, the act has served as a model that other nations from Sweden to Mexico have followed in the creation of their own climate laws.


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  • The UK also trialled the first major emissions-trading scheme, and has consistently played a valuable role in international climate diplomacy, the committee says, providing climate finance and developing low-carbon technologies. At a briefing on the new report, Stark said:. A genuine, really strong statement that net-zero can be achieved in a comprehensive way, and would make a really clear signal of leadership from the UK , similar to what we made in with the Climate Change Act itself.

    The net-zero target requires an economy-wide overhaul, the committee says. Official figures show the government is on track to miss its existing climate targets from the late s onwards. This will mean most sectors reducing their emissions close to zero, without relying on offsetting or the mass removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. In a net-zero UK, the electrification of sectors such as transport and heating would result in a doubling of electricity demand.

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    Hydrogen would also need to tapped as a fuel for industrial processes, heating, HGVs and ships. Such measures will be required to mop up emissions from industry, to complement hydrogen and electricity production, and, with bioenergy crops, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Breakdown of the contribution required by each sector to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases in the UK. Compared with the electrification of cars, the success of these measures is less certain, but Stark notes they are still evidence-based and feasible.

    He tells Carbon Brief:. In the following sections, Carbon Brief explains what the CCC says will be required for each sector in the coming decades. In the scenarios laid out by the CCC, a large, reliable supply of electricity is vital to power everything from cars to heat systems. The report says this should be supported by nuclear and CCS plants, in which biomass or gas are burned and their emissions captured.

    It notes that an upcoming Energy White Paper should support this target.

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    Such deployment could include at least 75 gigawatts GW of offshore wind, compared to 8GW today and the 30GW covered by the sector deal made by the government for At present there are nearly 2, turbines in UK waters; however, each turbine will be larger in future. At the same time, there will be a need to support this rapid electrification with measures that enhance flexibility, such as smart charging of vehicles and hybrid heat pumps.

    The CCC says these kinds of systems would help accommodate the greater proportion of variable power sources, such as wind and solar. However, if — as some studies have suggested — this proportion could safely go higher, the system would be far cheaper than one in which nuclear and CCS had to be deployed more widely.

    As Thompson explains to Carbon Brief:. We think the renewables, wind and solar, are going to be the cheaper technologies, and the more we have of them the cheaper [it is] going to be. Though some forms of renewable power are starting to be deployed without government subsidies , the committee warns that for the time being intervention will still be required to secure the pace of expansion needed. Measures required under the Core and Further Ambition scenarios in The CCC has previously flagged UK homes as insufficiently prepared for the challenges posed by climate change.

    It notes that straightforward improvements, such as insulation, draught proofing and new windows, reduce the rate of heat loss, and can come with energy savings that outweigh the costs.

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    This allows it to bring the sector in line with others. Many of these gains will be based on the same principles applied in other sectors, such as the rollout of CCS, hydrogen and electrification. As Thompson tells Carbon Brief:. The CCC notes that while these measures are not technically more expensive than analogous changes in other sectors, designing policies to make the necessary changes may be more challenging. Alternatively it could involve taxpayer funding, new schemes such as border tariff adjustments or product and building standards that drive demand for low-carbon goods.

    Road transport is one of the key areas singled out by the CCC as not progressing fast enough in its decarbonisation.

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    Electric cars are expected to be cheaper to purchase than conventional models by , with considerably lower running costs. With this in mind, the committee notes that would be a desirable date for the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles to end, but suggests at the latest. Overall, its analysis suggests electric vehicles will actually be cost-saving by This means an earlier switch would be cheaper for the UK economy as a whole, saving money relative to a end date. A switch to electric vehicles would have more money than the switch currently planned.

    Costs are compared to continued use of petrol and diesel cars, and are the subsidy free total lifetime 14 years costs relating to all new vehicles bought in that year.

    Includes upfront vehicle cost, refuelling cost discounted at 3. To better represent vehicles available in the future the analysis assumes the costs and efficiencies of petrol and diesel cars also develop over time. As a result, these figures are not directly comparable to others in the report. Until costs are slightly higher for a phase-out date, which is largely due to electric vehicles being more expensive until this point and greater charging infrastructure requirements.

    Costs for a switchover date are not shown, but are slightly higher than for a switchover. It concludes the government must also support a strengthening of charging infrastructure. By , 1, rapid chargers near major roads and a further 27, in towns across the nation will be required, it says, with even more installed in the decades that follow. Besides these well-understood and ultimately cost-saving areas, the committee also considers the more ambitious goal of decarbonising HGVs. Given the lag between a technology being developed and widely taken up within a sector, the committee concludes a decision will need to be made about the best path to HGV decarbonisation by the latter half of the s.

    Overall, their scenarios include a fifth of agricultural land being used to grow trees or energy crops, or else restored into peatland. It concludes such a transition could be made feasible by a country-wide switch to healthier diets and less food being wasted see below.

    A roadmap to a low carbon economy in 2050

    The committee warns that a dramatic uptick in tree-planting will be required in order to remove sufficient quantities of emissions from the atmosphere by the middle of the century. While the government has set ambitious measures for this sector, it has fallen far short of what is required, as the report notes:.

    The voluntary approach that has been pursued so far for agriculture is not delivering reductions in emissions. The committee says by this bill should, therefore, be playing a vital role in not only promoting low-carbon farming, but also encouraging farmers to use their land to counteract greenhouse gas emissions.

    Aviation is still expected to produce more emissions than anything else in , but the CCC identifies potential to limit emissions in this challenging sector. Since the current carbon budgets have been set without these emissions, we recommend their inclusion from the first year of the sixth carbon budget ie Cuts to plane emissions can come from improvements in fuel efficiency and switching to alternative fuels, according to the committee.

    The report warns, however, that easier methods, such as planting trees, will not be enough to counterbalance aviation emissions. Instead the committee suggests more expensive measures, such as directly capturing CO2 from the air or bioenergy plants with CCS , will be required. The CCC also notes a potentially significant role for constraining demand for flights, which is currently expected to continue growing rapidly in the coming decades.

    For ships, the committee sees greater potential to cut emissions, with the possibility for virtually all vessels to be operating on zero-carbon liquid ammonia fuel by With these sectors still remaining some of the toughest to decarbonise, the report emphasises that if a net-zero target is agreed by the government, it must include them.

    Cities can cut carbon emissions by 90 percent by , report says

    While the UK has made considerable progress towards cutting its emissions, this has largely been achieved through measures that have little impact on the day-to-day lives of British people. While the new CCC guidance does not call for a radical overhaul in the way people live, it does rely on a degree of behavioural change if the net-zero target is to be met. These changes will mainly affect the way people eat, fly and choose products. Household emissions in , and for different decarbonisation scenarios in , including the reduction needed to reach net-zero.

    The CCC also notes the transition away from some animal products is already happening. Thompson tells Carbon Brief:. That partly reflects that we are seeing it happen anyway, so we know the younger generations eat less meat than the older generations. We do need an acceleration in that shift, but that is the direction we are heading in already.

    Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050 Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050
    Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050 Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050
    Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050 Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050
    Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050 Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050
    Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050 Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050
    Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050 Living in a Low-Carbon Society in 2050

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