What can the UK do to cut greenhouse gases to zero?

Plans are in place for the UK to cut greenhouse gases to zero by 2050. This achievement would mean that we’d be the cleanest country across the globe.

Statistics reveal that around 500 million tonnes of CO2 were released across the nation annually as of October 2018. Guidance from the Committee on Climate Change has been formally sought by the government about how and when the UK could bring this number down to zero though, with the move prompted from the release of a UN report which warned that CO2 emissions must be entirely stopped if dangerous climate disruption is to be avoided.

Speaking to BBC News, Claire Perry, the UK’s climate minister, said: “The report was a really stark and sober piece of work — a good piece of work. Now we know what the goal is, and we know what some of the levers are.

“But for me, the constant question is: what is the cost and who’s going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?”

Read on as VW service provider, Vindis explore some of the changed we’d need to make to reach the goal.

Driving with fuel-efficiency

One of the first steps the government is taking to reduce emissions is trying to make our roads cleaner. In fact, they’ve announced that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned across the nation from 2040.

Granted we’re a while away from this target, but some drivers are already exploring their options when it comes to alternative-fuel cars.

In one report, Next Green Car revealed that the number of new registrations of plug-in cars jumped from just 3,500 in 2013 to over 195,000 as of the end of January 2019. Furthermore, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted that electric car sales across the UK has shifted from only close to 500 being registered each month in the early part of 2014 to an average of 5,000 per month throughout 2018.

To cope with the growing demand, infrastructure is improving thanks to both sustained government and private investment. While the UK’s network of electric vehicle charging points was recorded in at just a few hundred units as of 2011, there had been more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors installed by June 2018.

Of course, it will be many years yet until all vehicles on the roads of the UK being run on alternative fuels — the latest vehicle data from the SMMT stated that the car registrations market share for January 2019 was 64.08 per cent petrol, 29.08 per cent diesel and 6.84 per cent alternative-fuel vehicles, for example — but it appears that things are at least moving in the right direction.

The introduction of low carbon fuels

It’s important for both people and businesses to recognise low carbon alternatives when it comes to fuel. It appears the nation is already assisting in this area.

Examining research by Imperial College London and reported on by The Guardian, the capacity of renewable energy in the UK surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time. With the amount of renewable capacity trebling in the same five-year period that fossil fuels decreased by one-third, the capacity of biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power hit 41.9 gigawatts and the capacity of gas, coal and oil-fired power plants recorded in at 41.2 gigawatts between July and September.

The man behind the research, Dr Iain Staffell, pointed out: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and [the quarter between July and September] saw a major milestone on the journey.”

The UK managed to set an impressive record in 2018 of being powered without coal for three days in a row (the official time stood at 76 consecutive hours). This was before a report from Imperial College London which was commissioned by Drax suggested that coal supplied only 1.3 per cent of Britain’s entire use of electricity during the second quarter of 2018 — furnaces based at coal-fired power stations throughout the country were completely unused for 12 days in June last year too.

Improving home insulation

According to a BBC News article from February 2017, the UK was needing to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent between the date that the piece was published and 2050. What’s more, a third of those carbon emissions had been recorded from heating draughty buildings across the nation.

Experts from a group of construction firms, the Green Building Council, stated in a report sent to Parliament that 25 million existing homes will not currently meet the insulation standards being enforced in the mid-century and will need to be refurbished to the highest standards. According to calculations, these findings mean that the rate of refurbishment stood at a rate of 1.4 homes needing to be worked on every minute as of the beginning of 2017.

Of course, there are other advantages, to conducting this work. The Green Building Council’s head Julie Hirigoyen explains: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.

“We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”

There’s no denying that this goal is ambitious, is it achievable? Fortunately, some of the examples covered in this article does at least suggest that efforts are being made to ensure the nation reaches its goal.

 

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45856377

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/target-zero-uk-aims-to-cut-all-emissions-by-2050-bddfcwmd6

https://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capacity-surpasses-fossil-fuels-for-first-time

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/24/uk-power-generation-coal-free-gas-renewables-nuclear

https://www.newstatesman.com/spotlight/energy/2018/08/coal-supplied-just-one-cent-britains-electricity-summer

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scottish-power-wind-energy-renewable-drax-gas-station-climate-change-a8585961.html

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/661933/tsgb-2017-report-summaries.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/26/carpooling-commuting-car-share-liftshare-uber