Committee on Climate Change
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. It provides advice to the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments on how to set interim carbon budgets to stay on track to meet the statutory climate change target (now net zero by 2050); and annually reports on UK progress in meeting carbon budgets. Its reports are based on research it commissions. The Committee has an adaptation sub-committee that advises and reports on the challenge of adapting to the level of climate change occurring. The Committee publishes all its advice and reports on its website: www.theccc.org.uk
The CCC document ‘Net-zero’ document Net-zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming, 2 May 2019, recommended a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050. This report also recommended that new homes should not be connected to the gas grid from 2025.
Zero Carbon Britain
‘Zero Carbon Britain‘ is a research project run by the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales which aims to demonstrate how the UK might actually achieve net zero carbon emissions in practice. Their plans use only proven existing technologies and considers explores all aspects, from renewable energy and energy efficiency to diets and land-use, looking at how these can work together to help us build a zero carbon world. Their recent report, ‘Zero Carbon Britain: Rising to the Climate Emergency’ shows how a net-zero UK might look. We would need to see some major changes:
‘Power-down’ : the scenarios include reducing the total energy demand by 60%, keeping industrial energy use the same, but reducing building heating requirement by 50%, and reducing transport energy by 78%. This can be achieved through more public transport, efficient electric vehicles, two and thirds less flying.
‘Power-up’: Two thirds of our energy would be produced as electricity. Areas where electricity is not suitable (industry, heavy transport, flying) would use biogas or carbon neutral synthetic fuels produced using hydrogen (from electrolysis via surplus electricity generation) and carbon biomass.
Low carbon diet: We would need to obtain much more of our protein from plants like beans, legumes, cereals and vegetables. This enables a reduction of 92% of beef and lamb, 58% of pigs and poultry, 59% of dairy, and increases the amount of food grown in the UK.
Land Use: Grassland for livestock would be reduced to a quarter of the current area. This reduces the total land for food production by more than a half, freeing up 20% of land for biomass for the energy system by growing grasses, short rotation coppice and forestry. To capture carbon, the forestry area would be doubled and 50% of the peatlands would be restored. This would also provide more land for nature conservation.