At the current rate of progress, the government will miss it’s 2050 target - so what needs to be done?
A cross-party committee warned that the Government must take drastic steps if it hopes to meet its target of having net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 on Thursday.
In the parliamentary report, the select committee said that it was “worrying” that the Government was ambitious to tackle climate change, but was failing to put into place the policies needed to reach net-zero.
At the current rate of progress, the government will miss it’s 2050 target – so what needs to be done?
It’s no secret the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis, but it’s no reason to forget about the climate. Unfortunately, that is just what the Conservative government did.
Under Labour’s plans, all new homes built from 2016 onwards were meant to be zero emissions, but the Conservative’s scrapped that in 2015, deeming it too expensive.
The building industry makes up about 40 percent of the UK’s carbon footprint, so this is a key area for the government to tackle if it hopes to meet the target, and the key way to do so is regulation.
Repurposing should always be chosen over rebuilding, and we need to stop using so much concrete and opt for lower emission materials such as timber.
In case you hadn’t heard, fossil fuels are bad. Like really, really bad. But still, they act as a building block for most of society, especially when it comes to energy.
Gas is the most common source for heating our homes, but to reach net-zero we must turn to more sustainable, renewable options such as solar panels and wind farms.
It can be expensive to switch to a renewable energy source, but the science and technology select committee said a way to convince the switch to greener energy is through incentivising the public with financial schemes that would help improve their homes.
3. Farming and food waste
Trees play a crucial role when it comes to soaking up carbon, so we need more trees. One way of making more room for bountiful forests is through cutting out food waste nearly in half. This will help reduce the methane produced by rotting food too.
If we stop wasting so much of what we grow, then we won’t need to grow as much, say Friends of the Earth.
As well as crops, we should also reduce the amount of farmland for livestock, which produces copious amounts of methane. One way of incentivising the industry to keep less livestock is by switching to a low meat-diet. If every person did that, emissions could be cut by 35 percent, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
Currently, the government hopes to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, but experts say that date it too far away. Instead, they should aim for 2030, or 2035 at the very latest.
Phasing out petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars is just the beginning though, as personal ownership of vehicles will need to be drastically lowered, the committee said.
In the meantime, railways need to be fully electrified and public transport needs to be made more accessible.
“In the coming weeks the government should start work on publishing a national strategy for buses with investment to grow the network and green the bus fleet to be published by 2020,” explained Darren Shirley, the chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport.
5. Catching Carbon
Aside from trees, we do have the technology to capture carbon and repurpose it.
However, the select committee said that it’s imperative that the government is effectively using the technology, and is transparent with the public.
“The rate of deployment of several key low-carbon technologies is significantly lower than what is required to meet the Government’s ambitions, and various stakeholders expressed concern at the current and projected rate of progress of the UK’s decarbonisation,” the committee said.
Meka Beresford is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.
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