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Net Zero - What Does it Really Mean?
You might be looking to change your heating system to something that is better for the environment such as a heat pump or solar thermal heating. This change might have been prompted by the government announcing that we are to become Net Zero by 2050.
This is a term that we are hearing about each day and now it is our main target when it comes to cutting carbon emissions and turning back the clock on the damage we have all caused. However, what does it actually mean and can we get there?
How Did Net Zero Start?
In recent years, weather patterns and temperatures such as extensive bushfires in Australia and flooding in the UK have made us aware of the way in which our planet is changing. We are facing a climate emergency and this is backed with scientific evidence.
All of this has been caused by the burning of fossil fuels which generates carbon dioxide although there are other greenhouse gases that add to the problem. So, in order to deal with the issue, in June 2019, the UK became the first major country to commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. What this means is that by this date, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 100% when compared to 1990 levels.
Net Zero - What Does it Actually Mean?
Net Zero actually means finding a balance between the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere and the amount of carbon that is removed from it. Therefore, the term net zero refers to the balance, whereby the amount of carbon we emit is the same or less than the amount we remove from it.
In order to reach this target, homes, transport, agriculture and industry will need to significantly cut the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere. However, some areas such as aviation are more complex and costly when it comes to cutting emissions. So, these emissions will need to be removed from the atmosphere by either changing how we use our land, so it makes it possible to absorb greenhouse gases or by using technology to remove it such as carbon capture, usage and storage.
Why Set a Target of 2050?
There are a number of reasons why the UK government has set a target of 2050. However, it is crucial to remember that if we are going to meet this target then many changes are going to need to take place before 2030. So, if other countries also follow the UK and reach net zero emissions by 2050, it would mean that we have a 50% chance of avoiding a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees by 2100, which would have a catastrophic effect on our planet.
The year 2050 was also recognised as a realistic date for achieving this target, finding a balance between making a change and the impact this would have on the economy.
The different parts of the UK have different targets such as Scotland committing to a target of 2045 while Wales has followed England by sticking to 2050 although the aim is to get there sooner.
The Committee on Climate Change has also recommended that Northern Ireland reduces its carbon emissions by 82% by 2050 after recognising how the agricultural industry produces carbon emissions that cannot be prevented.
Is it Possible to Reach Net Zero by 2050?
It is a significant target that will require changes to be made in the next ten years if the UK has any chance of reaching the target by the middle of this century. However, there is some good news as figures released in March suggest that our emissions have already reduced by 48.8% when compared to 1990 levels although this has been enhanced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, if we disregard the impact of the pandemic, the reduction has been caused by the change in the way that we generate energy but we will also need to change how we use this energy.
As it stands, the Committee on Climate Change believes that we can reach this target by utilising the technology that we currently have available. Although this will have to be paired up with policies that support a reduction of emissions as well as a change to people’s lives.
So, if you are considering making a change to a newer and greener heating system, now is the time to consider the grants and incentives that are available to you.
Homeowners are still able to get a FREE boiler grant or insulation grant via the ECO scheme, which is still available to households that qualify. Warma UK are currently working throughout the UK helping privately owned and rented homes to improve home energy efficiency and save money on rising energy bills.
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