To plan for the future, it is important to understand what is needed to achieve carbon neutrality or net zero carbon emissions.
There is a good guide to Living Carbon Free, which is based on analysis by the official Committee on Climate Change in their Net Zero reports.
Key elements of the Net Zero scenario (see my summary) are:
HEAT – Improved home insulation, smart control systems and widespread use of efficient electric heat pumps; together with hybrid hydrogen boilers, particularly in older homes that cannot be insulated to the highest standards. In suitable areas, bio-methane gas and district heating may be used.
TRANSPORT – Reduce car use by walking, cycling, using buses and trains, and travelling less. Also switching to electric cars and flying more efficiently and less frequently. Trains and lorries to be either electric or hydrogen powered.
ELECTRICITY – Fully decarbonise the power supply through more large-scale renewables, together with some gas power combined with new technologies for carbon capture and storage. Also more local renewable energy and storage, together with a flexible smart grid, which is able to better manage demand.
DIET – Reduce meat (especially beef and lamb) and dairy consumption, which have high methane emissions.
WASTE – Reduce waste, especially food waste, and reuse and recycle more.
LAND – Low emission and efficient farming practices, more energy crops and less productive agricultural land switched to other uses, particularly more woodland and peatland restoration.
INDUSTRY – Decarbonise industrial operations and phase out the use of fluorinated gases in medical inhalers, refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps.
OFFSETTING – Any remaining greenhouse gas emissions to be offset through carbon capture and storage.
We should choose to adopt carbon-saving habits and technologies whenever we can. As well as reducing our carbon footprints, better diets, warm homes and more walking and cycling improves our health too.
Widespread adoption of changes needed to achieve net zero carbon will require new policies and programmes by government and local councils. These need to be introduced and developed as quickly as possible. They also need to be implemented fairly, so that changes are affordable for all and extra assistance is provided where needed.
Many of the changes should reduce our impact on the natural world and be accompanied by plans to increase biodiversity and wildlife habitats. Continue reading “Living carbon free”