A report out this morning from the Government backed think tank Energy Systems Catapult says it is highly unlikely the UK will achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 without highly speculative changes to lifestyle, land use and low carbon technologies such as banning aviation and meat production.

Our meat and dairy consumption would need to be reduced by 20% by 2050 versus today, however this may need to be reduced by 50% depending on the success of low carbon deployment.

Planting a forest up to twice the size of Birmingham every year up to 50,000 hectares every year may need to be planted for carbon sequestration says the report and while most assumptions suggest an increase in passenger demand of 60% versus 2005 levels, although as low as 20% growth may be needed depending on the success of low carbon deployment.

Carbon Capture & Storage with Bioenergy – may need up to 170 MtCO2/yr of storage by 2050 to capture industrial emissions (including hydrogen production) and to offset lifestyle emissions from air travel and livestock.

Hydrogen may need to grow to levels equivalent to today’s electricity generation to supply industry, heat and heavy transport.

Electricity generation will need to double of supply for huge increases in heating and transport (perhaps treble if hydrogen uses electrolysis).

Energy Systems Catapult Insight and Evidence lead Scott Milne, said: “Last year the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to a ‘Net Zero’ emissions target by 2050.

“Now for the first time, we’ve modelled hundreds of potential pathways to get to Net Zero by 2050, ramping up or down different technologies and behaviour changes – to understand the different combinations, interactions and trade-offs of competing decarbonisation options to reach the most cost-optimised approaches.

“Broadly each potential pathway uses a combination of two different approaches: a top-down technology focused approach or a bottom-up behaviour focused approach.

“However, what stands out is – no matter which pathway the UK takes – innovation, investment and deployment across low carbon technology, land use and lifestyle is essential to achieve Net Zero.

“And there are massive economic opportunities for the UK to lead the world in these areas.”


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