LAST November at COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Boris Johnson pledged that the UK would be carbon neutral by 2050. This made the UK the first major world economy to set the goal of bringing carbon emissions to net zero – soon followed by the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union. This renewed vigour in tackling climate change comes as the effects of global warming become increasingly apparent and ever-more damaging all over the world, proving the urgent need for collective action and a committed effort to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels.
Global warming is not a new phenomenon, of course, and small steps have been taken to slow its impact over the last few decades. Indeed, in 2021 the UK had 48% lower carbon emissions than in 1990 – although this data was skewed by the stand-still of transport during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in order to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, a total overhaul of our industry, buildings, transport, and agriculture is needed, set out in the UK government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution that was released shortly after COP26.
So, what does the green industrial revolution involve, and how will it be carried out over the next 30 years? Discover the climate technology that is driving the UK to its goal of net zero carbon emissions.
When compared to the rest of Europe, the UK has some of the continent’s oldest housing stock. While these buildings can be beautiful to look at, the outdated architecture means that many of our residential properties are poorly insulated making them incredibly inefficient to heat. New green heating technologies that are powered by natural resources, such as solar panels and heat pumps, are at the centre of the government’s plan to make our homes more energy efficient.
However, while the technology is in place, there is a lack of engineers specialising in air source heat pump installation and the system remains very expensive compared to the traditional gas boiler. With just three years to go until gas boilers are banned from new build homes and with most of the housing market still using gas heating systems, the government will need to pick up the pace in order to hit its commitments with regards to eco-friendly building technologies.
Behind green heating systems is renewable energy technology which is vital in the UK’s pledge to significantly reduce our use of fossil fuels. These alternative energy sources include wind power (onshore and offshore) and solar power which, as well as transforming our homes, will be key to cutting the emissions from industry as well.
Transport is one of the main culprits when it comes to UK carbon emissions. Despite having a comprehensive public transport infrastructure, we have a large volume of vehicles on the road, most of which use CO2-emitting fuel-powered engines. Swapping petrol and diesel cars for electric counterparts is at the core of the green transport revolution, already well underway with the government investing heavily in putting charging points at key points around the country.
There is no doubt that the UK has the technology to achieve its aims – but the timeline is tight.