UK ‘could be zero carbon by 2030’

A report outlining what the UK would need to do to reach carbon neutrality over the next 20 years has been published by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT).

The study looks at the political and economic challenges that would need to be addressed in order to attain this goal and argues that many of the measures needed would also address other pressing national concerns such as energy security and economic recovery.

It puts energy efficiency and a smart grid at the heart of its proposals, arguing the first thing to tackle is the huge wastage built into the existing system.

“Rather than residing precariously at the end of the peaking pipeline of polluting fossil fuel imports, Britain can head an indigenous renewable energy supply chain powering a lean, re-localised economy,” said a statement accompanying the publication of the report.

“Every field, forest, island, river, coastline, barn or building holds the potential to become an energy and revenue generator, with different technologies appropriate to every scale or location.”

The report, unsurprisingly considering the UK’s favourable wind regime, puts some emphasis on offshore wind turbines as part of the energy mix required to drive down the country’s emissions.

It also talks of using a much greater share of farmland for energy crops.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) responded to the report saying that many policies that are good for the climate are also good for the rural character but urged caution in some areas.

It questioned some of the agricultural policies, accepting there would be a need to reduce livestock numbers but saying it was important not to risk biodiversity and beauty in an effort to drive down carbon.

It also expressed concerns that many areas would see a “move from the familiar pattern of hedgerows and pastures to miscanthus and woodland” if biofuel were relied on to keep the nation moving.

But despite misgivings in some areas, the report has been broadly welcomed by environmental thinkers.

Sir John Houghton, former chair of the IPCC said: “The authors of [this report] present a timescale for action that begins now.

“I commend their imagination with their realism, their integrated view and sense of urgency.”

Sam Bond

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