What would it take to reach net zero before 2050 in the UK? Radical changes to the way we live our lives alongside new technologies could – with an added dose of good luck – see us hit net zero emissions a few years before 2050, according to the UK’s top climate adviser. “We were stunned by the criticism from some quarters about the target lacking ambition,” Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK’s independent climate advisers, tells The Independent. “We all felt in the CCC that the net zero advice was very ambitious.” The criticism spurred the CCC into coming up with new analysis to explore whether reaching net zero before 2050 would be a physical possibility, Stark says. Analysis from the CCC shows that it, in theory, the UK could get to net zero as early as 2042. But this could only occur if a tough list of requirements are met. For example, people would need to eat far less meat and dairy and fly less frequently, and technologies that are currently still in their early stages of development would need to be drastically scaled up, Stark explains. The CCC explored the feasibility of reaching net zero before 2050 as part of its latest report for the government, which was released in December. The report sets out four possible future pathways for how the UK might get to net zero, which vary in their assumptions about the level of future lifestyle change and technological innovation in the UK. The CCC drew from all four scenarios, including the highly ambitious scenario where the country hits net zero by 2042, to come up with its recommendations for how the UK should reach net zero emissions. “If I were speaking to the green community I’d be championing early action rather than new target dates. Because it’s that early action that could open up the opportunity to get to net zero sooner.”
Independent 9th Jan 2021 read more »
Dominic Lawson: You think the government’s policies over Covid-19 have been confused and contradictory? Compared with those it is pursuing in the field of energy and industry, they have been a model of good sense and intellectual rigour. But while shortcomings in the former are revealed within weeks, in mortality figures, flaws in energy policy take years to emerge — by which time the politicians responsible have comfortably retired from the scene. It is wind power on which the government has staked this country’s energy future. Boris Johnson boasted absurdly that we would become the “Saudi Arabia of wind”, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Saudis were enriched because they were able to export their oil globally and at vast proft margins. The effect of increasing our dependency on indigenous wind will only add to the likelihood of the sort of market panic we witnessed last week — and of blackouts. As the Financial Times’s Jonathan Ford observed: “According to the … National Grid, the total cost … of getting to net-zero is of the order of a thumping £160bn a year over the next three decades. It is hard to imagine that this wouldn’t create some jobs along the way … But where are all these workers to come from? Most likely by diverting people from other, possibly more economically valuable pursuits.” Such as ones not subsidised by the taxpayer, or by energy users in the form of much higher bills — which is a form of impoverishment, not enrichment. The people who will suffer most from the government’s equivalent of the USSR’s five-year plans (which had about as much economic sense) are precisely those on whom it relied for its election victory in 2019 — and whose fortunes it has pledged to restore. Last week the think tank Onward, in a report signed off by two former ministers, one Labour and one Conservative, pointed out that of the “10 million jobs” threatened by the government’s commitment to excise UK CO2 emissions by 2050, far and away the greatest concentration were in the former red wall constituencies that had put their faith in Johnson.
Times 10th Jan 2021 read more »