Net Zero by 2050

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

Click to expand

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!

About Clive Best

PhD High Energy Physics Worked at CERN, Rutherford Lab, JET, JRC, OSVision
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20 Responses to Net Zero by 2050

  1. There’s only one word for this, lunacy.

  2. Stuart Brown says:

    I think you mean Lord Deben aka Gummer, who famously fed his daughter a beefburger during the height of the BSE scare. Not Denning.

    How to make this public, though? All the political parties, press and professional bodies appear to be 100% on message.

  3. edhoskins says:

    Hi Clive

    And what is the Rest of the World likely to be doing. Here is a reasonable estimate.

    https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/quantifying-futility-2020-estimate-of-future-co2-emissions/

    This estimate reduces the significance of CO2 emissions from the UK from 1.1% now to less than 0.5% of Global emissions and the EU from 9.8% now to 3.9% of global emissions.

    Incidentally France already has CO2 emissions / head lower than the Global average for 7.5 Billion people +. Its called Nuclear power.

    Just one correction I think it is Lord Deben: not Denning. Denning was a great jurist.

    • Clive Best says:

      Yes of course it is Lord Deben .

      France went nuclear after the OPEC oil embargo – a very smart move. They built identical PWRs for economy of scale. Macron seems to be going backwards though supporting wind energy. France will eventually need to renew its fleet of reactors.

      UK acting alone is futile. I suspect Lord Deben doesn’t care because he believes he is doing God’s work.

  4. or deliberate sabotage

    Yuri Bezmenov – demoralization

    https://youtu.be/bX3EZCVj2XA

    • Cytokinin says:

      I think that Lenin and Stalin used to call the brainwashed “willing Idiots”, which would suggest that the undermining has been going on for a century. The truths that are held by people were passed to them by people who received the truths from people in authority, who often received the truths from people in authority… Unfortunately only a small percentage of the population has been taught how to think, how to read (questioningly) and how to analyse, so as Bezmenov implies, the cultural undermining has become self-perpetuating. Of course, one has to question whether Bezmenov is not, in this interview, up to mischief himself, by sowing the seeds of paranoia.

      We are biologically programmed to accept the word of authority figures – parents, teachers, priests, politicians. In a tribal society where everyone is in kin relationships and the tribe represents an extension of the biological organism, this makes sense, but as societies expand and become increasingly complex, the manipulators, who do not share the common good, are able to exploit for their own benefit. Religions have been doing this for millennia and of course the Communists were able to copy this (Stalin was trained in a seminary). In the early 20th century JD Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie were able to set in motion processes of infiltration into education systems that even today are influencing thinking and political beliefs, since there have been generations of disciples.

      As a biology student, many years ago, I used to sneak into lectures and seminars on anthropology, sociology and philosophy. Unlike in science where everything should be based on observation and inference and where everything should be recorded, open to analysis and reproducible, these disciplines had as their starting point the grand idea espoused by the expert and elaborated on by the disciples. I saw these subjects as highly entertaining, since to invent such ideas took a mischievous mind, I never saw these ideas as anything more than interesting, provocative, untestable stories, which were ideal for stimulating dinner party conversations. However, many people see these hypotheses as truths upon which other truths can be built, since there was an originating great mind, who was beyond questioning. I suspect that only some people, who have been inculcated in scientific thinking and analysis, have the ability to deconstruct these arguments and see that they have never progressed beyond being mere speculative hypotheses.

      For the vast majority of people, these stories are the truths that they like to believe, since they are emotionally comforting and play into their own belief prejudices. They become a bit like Piaget’s Schema, a sort of default, unthinking, automatic response that saves them having to think and analyse. This is fair enough, since one can’t analyse everything, but unfortunately, to not have the ability to analyse these core beliefs and to challenge core beliefs, leaves you as little more than an automaton, or puppet.

      The recent pandemic has shown how ill equipped our world leaders are to cope with matters that require a scientific education and good analytical and synthetical skills. Boris Johnson, who is generally believed to be intelligent, but lazy, is very good at catching the whiff of a brief and turning it into something cogent and believable, has been completely out of his depth. He has been surrounded by people who similarly are out of their depth and together they have not had enough scientific ability to be able to distinguish good science from bad science, or the type of advice that would be useful to them. As politicians they know that in a crisis it is better to make a decision than to appear indecisive, unfortunately this meant that there were a catalogue of silly decisions, until in the end scientists pulled them out the mire by rapidly developing an effective vaccine and they had the good sense to instigate a programme of rapid vaccination.

      Climate change is no different. I doubt that anyone in government is able to go back to source papers, deconstruct them and make decisions about the validity of the them, examine the strengths and weaknesses of them, or identify the unfilled knowledge holes and hence the validity of arguments. The subject of climate science often seems to follow the path of non-scientific subjects i.e. the word of the expert is more important than the quality of the research. The need to appear decisive and to make popular decisions is one of the weaknesses of our type of democracy. Power can only be gained and maintained by pandering to the masses, by being seen to do the right thing, by being seen to be better than the alternative, even if what is done is stupid. So we end up with what Clive has correctly identified as silly policy.

      • Clive Best says:

        COVID is a real crisis which politicians couldn’t handle, so they turned to scientists. Boris relies on Chris Whitty, Jonathon VanTam, and Patrick Valance completely. The problem now is that the scientists are getting cold feet as well and are afraid of being wrong. Hence we see pessimistic models saying that we mustn’t unlock too quickly even if we vaccinate half the people. They want to be sure they don’t get the blame if things go wrong. So it is a balancing act and meanwhile the economy is collapsing.

        Climate Change (Crisis/Emergency etc.) is a crisis invented by scientists. It goes unnoticed by the public because it is so very slow moving. It hardly affects their lives at all. For a country like the UK a 2 degree rise in temperatures by 2100 would probably actually be beneficial. So while there is some truth in the science it is not of concern to 99% of people during a single lifetime. Climate Scientists kind of know this but they want to be famous now and have an impact now. As a result they enter politics instead and try to force policy changes. Politicians respond to their lobbying by passing pledges to cut emissions but never stick around long enough to be held accountable.

        So we have to overcome COVID to live a normal life. We don’t need to solve climate change by returning to feudalism. We can wait for a breakthrough in cheap nuclear energy.

  5. prismsuk says:

    Search for: “by 2050, the ccc sixth carbon budget calls for 635 twh/year”

    Using the CCC’s recommended installed capacities of WASPPs will cost £31.83 billion each and every year, FOREVER!

    Alternatively, using Rolls-Royce’s advanced NPPs will cost just £8.41 billion per year.

  6. Can I suggest people follow the link in the article “a group of academics” when you will arrive at the high powered academic web site this nonsense comes from.

    Can I suggest you leave a polite message. Mine asked what temperature difference it would make if the British Lemmings were to run over the economic cliff and that no one would notice if we did, as China et al would gobble up the ‘spare’ emissions in a month or two

    tonyb

  7. Chris Long says:

    The line about Shipping strongly implies that ‘All shipping declines to zero’ includes the operation of the Royal Navy’s fleet, with only ‘some’ nuclear-powered vessels allowed to operate again sometime after 2050.

    Maybe the best course of action is to bring this to the attention of an admiral or two.

  8. Cytokinin says:

    As always Clive, your posts make me think.

    For me the pandemic year has been a great blessing, since for possibly the first time in my life I have been totally free to read and think without constraint. No targets to meet, no box to fill, just lots of wonderful free to drift time.

    Until 2001, I was quite happy to accept orthodoxy and happy to believe that what the BBC told me was pretty close to the truth, however when the 9/11 attacks happened I began to question what could and could not be trusted. Before I read any conspiracy theories on this attack I had a strong feeling of discomfiture. A couple of years before I had read about the demolition of high rise buildings in Glasgow. The demolition engineer had explained how it was necessary to have the charges placed in specific ways and how in order to avoid asymmetric demolition and potential casualties, the sequence of detonation had to be precise. Bringing a high building down on its own footprint is therefore no easy matter. I knew this, I had watched many videos and had seen the consequences of this being imperfect. I was happy to believe that both towers had been hit by hijacked planes, since I saw on video the second plane flying into the tower. It was only after the first tower collapsed in its own footprint that I became suspicious. My suspicions were further increased when the second tower similarly collapsed. When next day tower seven, which had not been hit by a plane also collapsed in its own footprint – 20 minutes after the BBC announced it had collapsed – I was never able to rid myself of suspicions.

    Following close on from this was an invasion of Afghanistan, purportedly to eliminate al Qaeda, an invasion of Iraq to eliminate the WMD, the “suicide” of Dr David Kelly and the apparent muzzling of certain BBC presenters. At some point we had the murder of Osama bin Laden and the purported dumping of his body at sea. Conveniently no trial.

    At the end of the twentieth century I used to tell American friends about how lucky we were in the UK to have the BBC. Across the first two decades of this century I have come to realise that the BBC has become (possibly always was) a propaganda machine. In exploring this further, I have gradually learned that what previously seemed reliable sources of information in other media, all have their biases and tendencies to obfuscate, confuse, mislead, or even blatantly lie. Lies of commission, lies of omission, mixed in with truth to make it nearly impossible to find anything other than what the power source behind the article wants you to believe. Over the past year, I have found that if I really dig deep into my core beliefs, almost everything is built on sand. My parents, teachers, the Christians of all denominations, the media, have filled my head full of half truths and nonsense, so in my sixties I now have to question my very core – not easy.

    An interesting read:
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-03-26/illiberal-tide?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=twofa&utm_campaign=Russia%E2%80%99s%20Weak%20Strongman&utm_content=20210402&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017

    CO2 induced global warming never made sense to me, but because it came to me via an authority figure, I held faith and became a disciple. Until I actually set out to do something about it and had to go back to first principles, it never dawned on me to question it. As with all complex, dynamic systems, be wary of simplistic explanations. Complexity is complex.

    If CO2 is causing warming and if warming is going to be catastrophic, will net zero help? As you have identified, net zero in one country will make no difference to the global situation if everyone else continues with business as normal, all it will do is weaken that country and make it less competitive, driving it back to the status of a developing nation. In the case of the UK a sort of North Korea in the North Sea. Even if the whole world were to adopt net zero, it will not bring down the temperature, which the BBC is perpetually informing us is causing every disaster on the planet. What net zero really does is force people to buy stuff, lots and lots of lovely stuff. Electric cars, electric bikes, wall insulation, double glazing, draught proofing, heat pumps, wind mills, solar arrays, tidal turbines, rechargeable batteries, charging points, electric and hydrogen planes … it is a giant job creation scheme, a giant fiscal injection and a great prop to a financial system that has been failing for decades. It’s a bit like using prohibition to ensure that mineral oil was the preferred vehicle propellant over alcohol in the early twentieth century. There will be winners and losers out of this, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the money lenders will be the winners.

    Why net zero? We already have all the technology to suck excess CO2 from the atmosphere, back down to 300ppm, or less if you want. In fact it is possible by using this technology to control atmospheric CO2 levels by switching on and off sequestration. With such technology, it is even possible to have emissions as normal and still reduce CO2 concentration, if this is desirable. Such technology has the potential to rewild the planet, green the desert, stop wild fishing, feed the world population three times over and many other benefits. Net negative is the path we should be pursuing. We should be missing out all the intermediate technology and move to a truly green planet. All doable in 19 years.

  9. Adam Abdelnoor says:

    There are too many people. A blindingly obvious and completely immovable fact that makes nonsense of attempts to forestall global warming., and the destruction of much of the ecosystem, and the mass extinction of species. Every equation used in modelling the future contains an implicit factor… loosely describable as ‘per capita’. Malthus warned us centuries ago, and that was the first warning. But no-one has figured out how to stop population growth without the assistance of war, disease, and famine. The seeds of our destruction were sown by our successes in defeating these ‘enemies’.

    • edhoskins says:

      Population, and there are going to be a lot more, until the developing world gets access too reasonably priced electric power, only then will the pressure for global population growth be abated.

      And another thought, the only way to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere is to have an real ice age. It was a close run thing last time only 12,000 years ago down to 180ppm: very close to the death of plants. It may be that Man-made CO2 from fossil fuels has deferred that catastrophe by a millennia so.

  10. ferdberple says:

    Firstly everything has to be electrified
    ====================
    exactly – once they have electrified power generation, we will no longer need fuel.

    Mount windmills on top of every truck and car. The faster the vehicle drives, the more electricity generated, the greater the speed you can achieve.

    This will for sure bring back the age of propeller driven aircraft. They wont need fuel, once they are in motion.

  11. Matthew Pullan says:

    Current estimates for peak global population levels assume that investment will continue to flow into the developing world. Without that investment, the population growth rate will probably not decline as expected, meaning the eventual peak will be higher than is currently estimated. The irony here is that what is ‘sustainable’ for the average person must be constantly recalculated in a downwards trend to allow for an increase in population. That increase could be in the order of billions.

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