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A zero carbon UK is achievable with business backing for clean technology

  • 28 Feb 2017

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A new report from research organisation Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) claims that the UK can become entirely self-sufficient for its energy needs, if businesses and policymakers can demonstrate a strengthened support for existing low-carbon technologies.

The transport, building and energy sectors are examined by the report, to identify the changes required to move the UK onto a zero-carbon pathway, thereby creating thousands of green jobs and bringing great economic, environmental and social opportunities to the UK.

CAT Project Coordinator Paul Allen has expressed the importance of providing clear evidence that workable solutions already exist, as it gives policymakers no excuse for inaction and empowers citizens. 

Decarbonising transport

About a quarter of the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions are contributed by transport, which is the only major sector where emissions are gradually rising.

The transportation sector could help to tackle climate change and reduce the estimated health costs from air pollution with decarbonisation of the sector.

The paper highlighted that all cars, light vans and buses will need to be electric, hydrogen or run on biofuels in order to achieve a shift towards a zero-carbon transport industry.

In addition, it states that policy measures such as more integrated urban and transport planning, high quality infrastructure and services, and economic incentives would aid the addressing demand for air travel and car dependency.

Economic benefits of £8.7bn could be generated to for the UK economy with an energy efficiency programme, CAT claims.

For the country to meet its climate change targets, the report states that around a 50% reduction in energy demand from buildings is required along with a switch away from fossil fuel powered heating systems to zero-carbon technologies.

Low-carbon living

The report proposes retrofitting the entire existing building stock and switching to zero-carbon heating and highly efficient lighting to reduce heating demand by at least 60% from 2010 levels. Carbon emissions would be reduced by flexible energy demand in buildings that involves increased amounts of energy storage, as would low-carbon construction materials.

Despite the fact that the country is not on track to meet its target to generate 15% of its energy from renewables sources by 2020, the UK has good natural resources for low-carbon energy development, the research shows.

It is insisted in the report that the UK can meet its energy needs with 100% renewable energy by scaling up installed systems such as wind, solar and tidal technology. In addition, it calls for the repurposing of some land to grow biomass needed for parts of a 100% renewable energy system.

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