Earlier this month, Boris Johnson significantly upped the stakes on the UK’s carbon emission targets, promising a legally binding 78% reduction from 1990 levels by 2035. Not only are the latest figures 15 years ahead of the original schedule, they also, for the first time, factor in our share of emissions from international shipping and aviation.
The new target is in line with recommendations contained in the Sixth Carbon Budget and runs parallel to the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, which calls on us to reduce emissions by over two-thirds (68%) of 1990 levels by 2030.
The Prime Minister boasted of “raising the bar” for other nations to follow – a laudable enough stance for a politician to take but one that will also require total collaboration at both home and abroad. Whole sectors of the UK economy, comprising a multitude of individual companies, will need to be involved. With the spotlight shining particularly brightly on Britain at the COP26 gathering in Glasgow later this year, there is no room for slippage.
Oddly enough, the Coronavirus is helping us; experts have calculated that the pandemic reduced carbon emissions by 10.7% in 2020 and that greenhouse emissions have been halved from 1990 levels.
Nevertheless, research suggests that emissions must now fall by a further 58% over a 15-year period to reach the Government’s new 2035 target. In practical terms, we are told that this will require all new cars, vans and replacement boilers to be zero carbon in operation by the “early 2030s”. UK electricity production must reach net zero by 2035.
In financial terms, experts at the Climate Change Commission (CCC) estimate that the Government will need to allocate £50bn more to decarbonisation each year by 2030 than it did in 2019. The good news is that savings from fossil fuel allocation will overtake the costs of adopting low-carbon alternatives by 2040. Emerging industries like nature restoration, green hydrogen production and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) are certain to play an increasingly important role.
The targets are certainly daunting but, having achieved carbon negative status at UnitBirwelco last year, we know that they are possible. Our recent agreement to partner with Jericho Energy Ventures to provide engineering support, procurement, manufacturing and fabrication related to its Hydrogen boiler (cleanH2steam DCCTM) is part of that process. Continuing to invest in R & D for projects like the production, storage and use of Hydrogen is crucial. Regardless of size, we all have a valuable role to play.