Opinion

What the UK is doing to reduce emissions to zero

Posted by John Hannen

11-Dec-2019

https://vindisgroup.com/


For those who are environmentally conscious, you'll be pleased to know that the UK is planning to be emission-free by 2050.

However, this is quite a way away. And with a yearly output of an estimated 500 million tons of greenhouse gases released, this is likely to have some damage to our planet. 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.

Claire Perry, UK 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?"

This article from Audi dealer, Vindis, explores how much of a challenge this objective will be for the UK.

Insulating UK homes

An article published in 2017 by BBC News outlines what the UK would have to do to reduce emissions by 80 per cent. What's more, a third of those carbon emissions had been recorded from heating draughty buildings across the nation.

Apparently, a major issue is that around 25 million homes won't meet insulation standards that will be implemented in 2050. This is according to a report that was sent to Parliament by experts from the Green Building Council — a group of leading construction firms — with the solution being that the affected properties 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.

This refurbishment will be beneficial towards more than just reducing carbon emissions. 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.”

Supporting the infrastructure for alternative-fuel cars

To make UK roads greener, the government will be prohibiting petrol and diesel cars from 2040. While we may be a couple of decades away from seeing this ban come into force, it appears that an increasing number of British motorists are already exploring what's available when it comes to alternative-fuel vehicles e.g. LPG powered.

The number of licensed electric cars has interestingly risen from 3,500 units in 2013 to over 195,000 at the beginning of 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.

Companies have been investing into alternative-fuel vehicles too, improving the infrastructure for sustainable energy. 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.

Although it will be in the distant future, the likelihood of vehicles running purely on alternative fuels seems to be increasing. The latest vehicle data from the SMMT has 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. However, it at least appears that things are moving in the right direction.

Low-carbon Fuels

To contribute to the UK's goal of zero-emissions, businesses could enforce the use of low-carbon fuels.

It seems that many of the UK population are getting involved. In figures compiled 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.

Dr Ian Staffel, who carried out research for Imperial College said: “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.”

Only last year, a record was set in the UK by going for 3 days without the use of coal for energy. 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.

 It's undoubtable that the UK has set a tough challenge for itself, but at least progress is moving in the right direction. All we can do is try!

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



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