Getting to net zero: UK discussion and CCC report

In the Times, its columnist David Aaronovitch notes:  “To get to net-zero, we will need at the very least to increase energy efficiency, move to 100% of power being produced from low-carbon sources (it’s currently 50%), change the way we all heat and power our homes, alter our ways of moving around, and significantly modify our diets and our use of land. Although the process will develop new industries and jobs, it is bound to mean some disruption and loss…However, we’ve done it before. When I was a teenager we smoked in cinemas, the idea of homosexuals marrying was never even discussed and most white people said they wouldn’t want their daughter marrying a black man. And then it changed.”

In the Daily Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard welcomes the CCC’s report: “There is no macro-economic cost to a climate target with zero emissions. To claim that we cannot afford to wean ourselves off fossil fuels by 2050 is to rely on primitive accounting fallacies. The switch to a post-fossil economy is more likely to be an accelerant to GDP growth, akin to the successive upheavals of steam power, electricity and digital technology, each with a ripening phase of 30 years or so…The logic is that we should launch this green blitz with vigour of emergency rearmament, and play to our relative strengths in North Sea technology and green finance. It is also the sort of country that I want to live in. Throw brickbats if you want, but perhaps there is a silent majority of Telegraph readers that agrees. Aren’t we conservatives after all?”

In a blog post for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), its director Richard Black sets out “five big questions” for the net-zero target. “One thing we can definitely expect the committee to say is that a net zero target means nothing without the policies to achieve it. This will mean action in all areas of the economy and thus most government departments.”

Tom Bawden’s analysis for the Independent concludes by stressing the “plus side” of the UK going net-zero: “The air will become cleaner, your diet will be healthier and you might be more likely to have a job if the UK is able to establish itself as the leader of a green industrial revolution.”

When should we be “ending our contribution to climate change”?

Leo Hickman’s Carbon Brief  The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its much-anticipated official “advice” on when – and how – the UK should reach “net-zero” emissions.  By arguing that the UK should, in effect, end its contribution to climate change by 2050, the CCC is saying the country will be considered a “world leader” on climate action, if it puts in place the policies to deliver such a target.  But that’s a mighty big “if” – and there are many, including the Extinction Rebellion protesters, who feel the CCC’s recommended target is not stringent or ambitious enough.

Much of the media reaction has focused on the potential impacts that going net-zero by 2050 would have on lifestyles – eat less meat, turn down the heating thermostat, fly less, switch to electric cars, etc – but the CCC’s 277-page report suggests far more is needed than merely persuading people to tweak their behavior and consumer choices. Arguably, it is recommending an economy-wide transformation.

Carbon Brief’s in-depth Q&A walks you through the CCC report’s key recommendations from farming and land-use through to housing and electricity generation. It also explains the CCC’s methodology, including how it calculates the likely “costs” of meeting the net-zero goal.