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Zero carbon roadmap warns of ‘dangerous’ climate change

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Current UK emissions targets are not tough enough to avoid ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change, says a new report by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)

The third edition of the seminal report on rethinking development in the wake of climate change, looks forward to 2030, and a scenario in which the UK has ‘risen to the challenges of the 21st century’.

Presented to the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group in Westminster today (16 July), the ‘roadmap’ highlights the need for further research on adaptation, economic transition and policy to provide significant CO2 emissions reductions.

The last edition of the report was released in 2010, since then the economic situation has worsened and negotiations on climate change have stalled. The new report draws on the work Zero Carbon Britain have been doing at the CAT during the last six years.

The report calls for strategic thinking to ‘avoid panicked choices that will lock the UK into a problematic energy path for the future’.

Report highlights

On energy

By making changes to our buildings, transport systems and behaviour, and by investing in a variety of renewable energy generation technologies suited to the UK (without a nuclear component), we can provide a reliable zero carbon energy supply without negatively impacting on quality of life.

The UK is now at a critical crossroads, as a significant amount of our current generation capacity is due for retirement within the next ten years. Strategic thinking is vital now to avoid panicked choices that will lock the UK into a problematic energy path for the future. Any investment in new generation plant infrastructure must take full
account of the longevity of the fuel supply, the cost of extracting fuel and producing energy, as well as the potential fuel price rises that may occur during its design life.

On greenhouse gas emissions

Current UK greenhouse gas emissions targets, though ambitious in comparison to our international contemporaries, do not offer substantial enough reductions to provide a good chance of avoiding what is now considered extremely dangerous climate change. Neither do they adhere to what might be termed the UK’s ‘fair share’ of the global carbon budget. The most recent climate science now demands a much greater sense of urgency than the current mainstream view.

On climate change

Closing the gap between current ‘politics as usual’ and what is physically necessary to address climate change will require cross-sector collaboration and public engagement, framed by robust international agreements to foster high-level all-party political commitment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Zero Carbon Grid = Good (but currently is not going to be achieved as Shale Gas burning power stations looks like the governments favoured option). European Zero Energy design standards 2020 programme = Good (take the emphasis off carbon and make it about not needing any energy as we can’t rely on the Grid being decarbonised). SAP calculations and CfSH focus on airtightness and high insulation, in our view = misguided bordering on BAD. Reason: Climate change is happening now, the UK is getting hotter and the buildings we design now need to be future proofed now. The average temperature in the UK will have risen by 6 degrees by 2100, with an expected 30 very hot days a year. The majority of the remaining days will be mild and very few extremely cold. Do you see airtight homes in Southern France, Spain, Portugal or Italy? This is the type of climate heading our way. The reason for this, as we are all experiencing this week, is natural ventilation and the ability to loose heat and not gain too much of it. The standards now are shaped for heat retention and minimal air flow – these homes will need air conditioning in years to come. The balance between retaining heat and having the ability to shed it (in a zero energy, passive, way) has perhaps gone too far?

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