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The UK plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 to become the cleanest country in the world. Each year, approximately 500 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted in the UK. Following guidance from the Committee on Climate Change, the government has looked into how it could bring this number down to zero. This move was prompted following the release of a UN report which stated that CO2 emissions must be fully stopped if we are to avoid dangerous climate disruption. 

The UK’s climate minister for the UK, Claire Perry, told BBC News: “The report was a really stark and sober piece of work — a good piece of work. Now we know what the goal is, and we know what some of the levers are.

“But for me, the constant question is: what is the cost and who’s going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?”

Here, UK car retailer Vindis highlights how big of a challenge the UK has set itself, by looking at three things that must change across the nation if the target is to be reached…

UK home insulation must be better

BBC News article detailed how the UK must lower its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.  What’s more, a third of those carbon emissions had been recorded from heating draughty buildings across the nation. 

However, one key issue is that 25 million homes will currently fail to meet the insulation standards that will be enforced from 2050. This is according to a report that was sent to Parliament by experts from the Green Building Council — a group of leading construction firms — with the solution being that the affected properties will need to be refurbished to the highest standards. According to calculations, these findings mean that the rate of refurbishment stood at a rate of 1.4 homes needing to be worked on every minute as of the beginning of 2017.

Carrying out this work will be a host of benefits, not just a reduction in carbon emissions, however. The Green Building Council’s head Julie Hirigoyen explains: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions. We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”

Fuel-efficient vehicles must be more appealing

To make the UK’s roads cleaner, the UK government has decided to ban the production of petrol and diesel cars throughout the nation starting 2040. While we may be a couple of decades away from seeing this ban come into force, it appears that an increasing number of British motorists are already exploring what’s available when it comes to alternative-fuel vehicles. The number of new registrations for plug-in cars increased from 3,500 units in 2013 to more than 195,000 models at the end of January 2019, reports Next Green Car. Furthermore, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted that electric car sales across the UK has shifted from only close to 500 being registered each month in the early part of 2014 to an average of 5,000 per month throughout 2018.

Thanks to sustained government and private investment, improvements have been made to the infrastructure to more alternative-fuel vehicles being used on roads across the UK too. While the UK’s network of electric vehicle charging points was recorded in at just a few hundred units as of 2011, there had been more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors installed by June 2018.

It may be a long way off that we see all vehicles on our roads run on alternative fuels. After all, the latest vehicle data from the SMMT has stated that the car registrations market share for January 2019 was 64.08 per cent petrol, 29.08 per cent diesel and 6.84 per cent alternative-fuel vehicles, for example. However, it at least appears that things are moving in the right direction.

Increase the use of low-carbon fuels

If the UK is able to eradicate greenhouse gas emissions, the nation could really benefit from businesses and people using low-carbon fuels more e.g. LPG. On this matter, it seems that quite a few individuals are already providing a helping hand. In figures compiled by Imperial College London and reported on by The Guardian, the capacity of renewable energy in the UK surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time. With the amount of renewable capacity trebling in the same five-year period that fossil fuels decreased by one-third, the capacity of biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power hit 41.9 gigawatts and the capacity of gas, coal and oil-fired power plants recorded in at 41.2 gigawatts between July and September. 

Research for Imperial College London carried out by Dr Iain Staffell stated: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and [the quarter between July and September] saw a major milestone on the journey.”

There’s no doubt that the UK faces a huge challenge in its attempt to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Fortunately, some of the examples covered in this article does at least suggest that efforts are being made to ensure the nation reaches its goal.