The 2008 Climate Change Act introduced by Ed Milliband committed the UK in law to cut CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050. This target was already difficult to achieve, but since then Theresa May went one better in the weeks before she left office, by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Neither she nor Ed Milliband had really any idea just how to achieve such lofty moral goals, but in 2050 they would both be long retired, and their short term political legacy clearly benefited them. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) with Lord Debben as long term chairman now smugly define our allowed 5-yearly “carbon budgets”.
The UK acting alone makes no sense unless the rest of the world follows our example, and that is very unlikely to happen while the developing world strive to improve their living standards and population increases. So how feasible is it for the UK to reach net zero emissions and what are the implications? A group of academics have been looking into exactly that question. How do you stop emitting any CO2?
Firstly everything has to be electrified – heating, transport, trade, food. Secondly we have to somehow rely mainly on Renewable energy (an expansion of Nuclear Power is not considered). This means drastically reducing our net per capita energy consumption and adapting to living instead with variable seasonal power sources. Thirdly we also have to decarbonise agriculture, industry and international trade. This means new steel production in blast furnaces is out, and only recycling scrap steel is allowed. Cement production is out because it generates large amounts of CO2. Aviation is out since electrifying planes is not feasible any time soon. Likewise shipping, fishing and international trade is out because they depend on burning oil
“Key Message: In addition to reducing our energy demand, delivering zero emissions with today’s technologies requires the phasing out of flying, shipping, lamb and beef, blast-furnace steel and cement.”
The problem is that shipping is currently crucial to our well-being – we import 50% of our food, and we don’t know how to build new buildings or install renewables without cement. Here is their roadmap
I am sure that if the UK public were made aware of all what is planned for their future there would be a public uproar.
- No Flying after 2030 (except VIPs of course)
- No gas central heating within ~12 years. Heat pumps only allowed and colder houses.
- Only electric cars post 2030 and a 40% reduction in traffic.
- Vegetarian only diet and no imported food.
- Shutdown of international trade and reduction in living standards
- International travel curbed except by train.
Perhaps COVID lockdowns are simply preparing us for something far worse – what the Climate Scientists and Greenpeace all have in store for us to save the “climate”.
Boris says we must be led by the science, but such stupidity could well lead us all down an infinite rabbit hole!