In the news this past week has been a lot of talk of net-zero emissions and new targets in place for the UK. Here, we’re going to go over what these mean, mainly for forecourts and motoring, and look at what life in 2050 could look like.
There looks to be a lot of change that could potentially happen, but a lot of this is still speculation and no official word has been given on where the cuts, money and change will stem from.
What has been announced?
Theresa May, in the days before she is no longer prime minister, announced that the UK will now aim for net-zero carbon emissions for 2050. Previously the target was to reduce by 80% by 2050 in 2008 but this will now be updated to reflect the new target.
For the first time young people, although it is unknown what age they will be, will be on a panel to contribute to the new climate change goals. A vast proportion of the Extinction Rebellion protests have been led by young people, and some school children even left school to go and protest in London for one day.
The Committee on Climate Change put forward a proposal to encourage the UK to increase it’s carbon emissions targets to make them net-zero by 2050. It recommended that Wales, due to the importance of farming on its rural communities, reduce it by 95% by 2050, but the Welsh Government have decided to join England and Scotland and aim for net-zero by 2050.
What does net-zero mean?
Net-zero means that while some CO₂ will still be produced it will be cancelled out in other ways, whether that be through planting trees, storing it underground or using carbon credits.
Things like farming and some production currently cannot be zero carbon emissions, and we can’t stop animals from producing carbon dioxide.
Life in 2050; what could it look like?
First of all, there will be a lot more trees. It is predicted that at the current rate of carbon emissions we’ll need to plant football fields worth of trees every day in order to hit the net-zero target.
Clean power generation needs to quadruple by 2050 in order to power the increased demand on the grid from the number of electric cars. Hopefully, by then, most people are using alternatively fuelled vehicles such as EVs, hydrogen or perhaps there will be a new fuel. Petrol stations will most likely become charging hubs with restaurants and a wider choice of food at the forecourts.
There’ll be less meat on our plates, especially red meats and much less processed food and supermarkets will be plastic free and much more economical.
At home, all lights will be LED and we’ll all be using clean energy, there will be no natural gas-powered homes left. The government wants to insulate all homes by 2050 to make them as energy efficient as possible, although some are unsure as to how this will be met.
Who’s paying for all this?
The new change to 2050 is expected to be not much more than the initial cost expected which was 1-2% of the UK’s GDP. Philip Hammond estimated a cost of £1 trillion by 2050, but is there a cost attached to keeping the planet alive? Sir David Attenborough has warned of irreversible damage caused if we keep going at the rate we are.
It may seem like you can’t do much but there are small things you can do: re-using old plastic bags and not using bin bags if you can help it. Switching to bars of soap rather than using liquid soap from a plastic tub. Correctly recycling everything and find a plastic recycling centre nearby. Walk shorter journeys, or consider using a bicycle if you are able. Journey share where possible and consider making your next car a hybrid or electric.
What do you think of the changes? What do you think of the stricter targets? Let us know below