June 27th 2019 was a significant day in the history as the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass a law to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.
The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
As the new legislation was signed, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore said:
“The UK kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions. Now we’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.
We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.”
Now, this really is fantastic news for the environment, supporting the need to reduce climate change by taking the right steps to make the world a better place for our future generations.
But, what does it all mean in real terms?
Is it a realistic target? Can we actually make a difference as individuals, or is this something that can only be addressed by Governments and large corporations? Won’t it all cost a lot of money to implement?
There are so many questions, but the only one that we genuinely know the answer to right now is that if we continue as we are, climate change will continue at pace and we, as a society will continue to contribute to the ultimate destruction of our planet. It all sounds very dramatic and depressing, so let’s explore the evidence and work out what we can all do to help the UK (and hopefully the rest of the World) meet this ambitious target.
Let’s take a look at a few facts and figures:
Renewables are on the rise – the use of renewable energy is continuing to grow, and will account for almost 30% of total power demand globally by 2023.
Coal consumption is declining – from 157m tonnes in 1970 to just 11.8m tonnes in 2018, and the UK’s seven remaining coal power stations set to close by 2025.
Source: BEIS/National Grid ESO
Offshore wind capacity is increasing – the Government is expecting offshore windfarms to provide a third of our electricity by 2030, with the World’s biggest offshore windfarm, Hornsea One, due to be completed in 2020. Covering an area five times the size of Hull, the 174 turbines will power 1m homes.
Our homes are improving – accounting for around 18% of the UK’s emissions, the Government’s clean growth strategy aims to improve the energy efficiency of around 1m homes, with measures such as cavity wall insulation, smart meters and LED lightbulbs.
We’re using more efficient appliances – helping the average household reduce gas and electricity usage between 2008 and 2017, saving £290 per year. Items such as eco kettles that only boil the amount of water required for a cuppa use 20% less energy than conventional kettles – quite a saving when the average household boils the kettle 1,500 times a year.
Source: Committee on Climate Change / Energy Saving Trust
Electric cars are becoming more popular – more than 2m electric vehicles were sold in 2018. This figure is expected to rise to 10m in 2025, 28m in 2030 and 56m by 2040, when they will account for 57% of global car sales.
So, we’re definitely heading in the right direction but there’s still a long way to go. According to the Committee on Climate Change, the Government needs to support this target with strong policies to confront the key challenges we face. For example, we must make firm plans for housing and domestic heating, ensure that electric vehicles become the only available options from 2035, develop carbon capture and storage technology and create a supply chain for low carbon electricity that is 4 times it’s current size. All of this requires investment, not only in financial terms, but also as a collective effort from consumers to adjust our lifestyles.
So, what can we all do to help?
As previously mentioned, net zero emissions by 2050 is an ambitious target and requires a concerted effort from everyone to make it a success. Engagement and support from the general public will be essential, and changes will need to be made but the benefits will be huge – with better physical and mental health, an improved environment and, crucially, a reduced exposure to climate risks.
So, here’s a quick checklist of things that you can do differently:
The way you travel
- Choose to walk and cycle or take public transport in preference to a car.
- Make your next car an electric one, and then charge it ‘smartly’.
- Minimise flying, especially long-haul, where possible.
In your home
- Improve the energy efficiency of your home through draught proofing, improved insulation, LED lightbulbs and choosing appliances with high efficiency ratings.
- Set thermostats no higher than 19° and the water temperature in heating systems no higher than 55°C.
- Consider switching to a low-carbon heating system such as a heat pump, which is significantly more efficient than a traditional boiler.
- Look at installing Solar PV on your roof for generating electricity, which can also now be stored so that it is available day and night, providing nearly 75% self-generated electricity consumption.
What you eat and buy
- Eat a healthy diet, for example with beef, lamb and dairy only from grass based systems.
- Eliminate food waste as far as possible and reduce, re-use and recycle other waste too.
- Choose good quality products that will last, use them for longer and try to repair before you replace.
Many of these changes are straight forward and simple to implement now, but others need people to make changes within their homes and make investment choices to support this initiative. Government support and incentives are available to help, particularly with renewable heating where cashback payments are made every 3 months for 7 years. However, other costs can be offset by cheaper transport costs (with a shift towards electric vehicles) and cheaper electricity bills (thanks to low cost renewable electricity).
At Caplor Energy, we have been committed to renewable energy for over 10 years and are an award winning company that leads by example with many renewable energy installations at our main site in Herefordshire such as solar PV, solar thermal, biomass and wind power, alongside many happy customers throughout the UK. During that time, we have seen huge changes in the industry, with significant investments in technology and innovation that has driven down the costs of key technologies, such as offshore wind, renewable heating, solar PV and battery storage.
Today, we can see major trends in new technology and demand for electric vehicles and renewable heating solutions such as heat pumps, largely driven by legislation on fuel emissions and the expected requirement for all new build homes to become gas free by 2025.
Our products and range of services have developed over the years in order to address these trends and we can now offer a wide range of options to suit all requirements, both for domestic and commercial customers.
The fact is that renewable energy is here to stay, will continue to grow at a pace and become ‘normal’ to every day life for all of us. We all have a social responsibility to contribute towards reducing global emissions, but we will also see significant benefits.
Our aim is to support all our customers, and the UK as a whole in the drive towards net zero emissions through knowledgeable, unbiased advice, quality products and reliable service to ensure that UK consumers are able to make the best renewable decisions and ensure that the UK continues to lead the rest of the World in our quest for a greener, more sustainable economy that will provide a better environment for our future generations.