The British government is willing to decrease greenhouse emission with 30 percent by year 2020 and as much as 80 percent by year 2050. However, a more effective strategy could be implemented. According to “Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT)” it is possible to become a zero-carbon economy by year 2030 through 10 steps.
1. Fewer sheep, cows and green fielded countryside
In the UK estimated 13 million hectares are used to graze livestock and to feed sheep, cows and other cattle. Based on calculations, reducing the amount of cows by 80 to 90 percent and that of sheep by 80 percent, would reduce the methane emission coming from livestock enormously. The land fields could be reengineered toward fast growing crops. These crops could be used to generate heat and power.
The landscaping changes would be countryside with fewer cow-dotted and sheep-dotted fields. The field would be replaced with woody crops. It would also mean healthier diets with less beef and lamb.
The energy demand of Britain’s households represents 28 percent of total energy. It is also accountable for 30 percent of the total carbon dioxide emission. Roughly, half of the greenhouse emission is derived from heating.
Simply enhancing the insulation systems can decrease energy demand for British’s households by 70 percent. The better designed homes must have a thermal comfort establish with warmer surfaces. This would practically substitute the need for constant heating.
The most effective way to achieve this refurbishment policy would be to offer rebates for energy efficient enhancement, lower mortgage interest for energy efficient buildings, subsidies and/or VAT reduction on insulation materials. This would promote the building industry to reshape its policies.
3. Offshore Wind
Meeting energy needs through alternative sources of energy by year 2030 means leaving coal-fired and nuclear stations behind. Removing this 55 percent can be matched by establishing 20,000 offshore wind turbines.
The largest deployed offshore capacity in Europe is already present in Britain. Moreover, the North Sea Oil as well as gas reserves are depleting. Offshore wind capacity can substitute this dependency. For this to be possible the government will have to invest £300 billion in offshore wind power over two decades. This would ensure the expansion of wind installation. The sum might appear colossal, but it does merely represent 2 percents of UK’s GDP for 2008.
4. Decrease flight volume
The aviation sector is growing very fast in our world economy. The volume of air passengers is, however, expected to rise by more than 200 percent before year 2030.
It would be fundamental to stop local flight and reduce the international flights by more than 50 percent to achieve a zero carbon UK. The long-haul flights represent for 66 percent of the greenhouse emissions by UK’s aviation sector. These reductions are expected to be met by new technology such as video-conferencing to supersede business meetings. Holidays taken closer to home could also be promoted via price regulations.
5. Hydrogen Buses and Electric Cars
The introduction of electric cars would slash carbon dioxide emission by 50 percent, in comparison to contemporary petrol or diesel driven vehicles..
It would be possible to power the whole automobile industry (cars and taxis) with simply 16 percent of the total electricity demand in UK. The implementation of smart charging strategies at night when the general electricity demand is low would avoid a peak power requirement. During the day, batteries could be swapped to avoid the need to set up more power installation to expand capacity.
Moreover, to reduce the volume of cars circulating in our actual road networks can be achieved in two ways. Set at tax per mile driven, this will make public transport a more cost effective option. Better town planning could reduce travelling distances and therefore, walking and cycling would be potential alternatives for car driving.
6. More Trains
The expansion of train networks could encourage a decrease in domestic aviation by 2030. Moreover, trains that are electrified are less polluting than airplanes. If high-speed rail networks were established across Europe than short-haul flights could diminish as well. Trains could also become a cheaper medium of transport for consumers via carbon pricing.
Bio-fuel is derived from biomass (wood). It is a type of liquid form of fuel that has less greenhouse impact than conventional fuel. It would be appropriate to use bio-fuel in sectors where electrification cannot be achieved like for aviation.
8. Carbon Price and Taxes
It would be fundamental to impose measures to discourage emission of CO2. A carbon price of roughly £200 to £500 per tonne would accord to CAT reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. The impact that carbon price will have on carbon-intensive consumption materials would be radical. For instance, adopting such a pricing strategy, the cost of one kilogram of beef would increase by £7, whereas for a kilogram of chicken the price would only increase by an additional £1.75.
9. Reduce Food Imports
In Britain, approximately 30 to 40 percent of all food consumed is imported. This could be reduced to roughly 15 percent. The drawback of such a strategy is that the supermarket shelves would probably have to display an out-of-season message for some products.
10. Enhance Marketing Tactics
In order to implement all the mention steps it is necessary to urge a change in behaviour and a rise in acceptance to avoid international travelling and decreased meat consumption.
For the case of reducing meat consumption even CAT acknowledged that it is against people’s preferences. The consumption of livestock products has instead of decreased augmented in the recent years. Thus, lessening the consumption of meat is slightly against historical trends.
This manoeuvre to change behaviour must be promoted and performed by NGOs and the government according to CAT. This could encourage a serious path towards a zero-carbon economy in Britain by year 2030.
Source: The Ecologist