Climate change is a matter of international importance which needs global support from governments, organisations and individuals alike.
The 2015 Paris Agreement set countries the task of reducing emissions to tackle rising global temperatures.
For countries to deliver on their promises they are having to introduce laws and policies to combat the use of fossil fuels.
The UK has become the very first country to put this into law. Paving the way for other countries to do the same. The UK are establishing themselves as a key leader in environmental management and the fight against climate change.
On the 27th June 2019 Chris Skidmore signed legislation to commit the UK to a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.
This has become known as Net Zero 2050.
In the following we will discuss what and why Net Zero 2050 is needed.
But more importantly we will not only outline how the UK intends to meet this target, but how you and your organisation can make a positive contribution to our future.
It’s hard not to overstate the importance of Net Zero and how the globe rests in the balance if its not achieved.
The consequences, if not met, will be irreversible changes to our environment and to life as we know it.
So, make sure you’re playing your part by following our strategies to help achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
- Chapter One – What is Net Zero 2050?
- Chapter Two – Why do we need Net Zero 2050?
- Chapter Three – Who’s affected by Net Zero 2050?
- Chapter Four – What progress has been made to achieve Net Zero 2050?
- Chapter Five – A roadmap to achieve Net Zero 2050?
- Chapter Six – What your organisation can do to achieve Net Zero 2050?
- Chapter Seven – What do the experts say?
- Chapter Eight – Net Zero 2050 frequently asked questions
- Chapter Nine – Net Zero 2050 round up
- Chapter Ten – A Brief History of Climate Change
- Chapter Eleven – Conclusion
Chapter One – What is Net Zero 2050
Net Zero 2050 is a new initiative by the European Climate Foundation designed to tackle one of the biggest current global issues, climate change.
The Net Zero 2050 initiative has received contributions from a wide range of experts and organisations.
Essentially Net Zero 2050 is the application of the 2015 Paris Agreement which was negotiated by representatives of 196 nation state parties.
It was adopted by consensus on December 12th 2015 and as of March 2019 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement.
The 2015 Paris Agreement deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance and it is the Net Zero 2050 initiative which hopes to accomplish those goals.
In short Net Zero 2050 is the UKs commitment and plan to become a net zero emissions country by the year 2050.
The plan to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 is a target recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
The practicality of this means that any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere such as planting trees or using carbon capture and storage technology.
At Zenergi our Energy Freedom initiative is our commitment to affecting change and leaving a legacy.
It is our promise to achieve freedom from rising energy costs, waste and energy suppliers. Our promise is to let organisations take control of their energy consumption.
You shouldn’t think of energy like a car insurance renewal. It shouldn’t just be considered something you have just because you need it.
Instead, you should take control of it and how you consume it.
Chapter Two – Why do we need Net Zero 2050
The scientific evidence and research for climate change is now becoming undeniable and irrefutable.
We can all see and feel how the world, weather and our environment is changing. And changing (in climate terms) quickly!
Year on year, season on season the changes are there for us all to see.
The research and scientific literature says that even if the earth heats by just 1.5 degrees C there would be a brutal impact on future generations.
To give us the best chance of staving off climate change we must reduce emissions to net zero.
By halting global warming to 1.5 degrees C we stand the best chance of limiting the potential devastating implications of climate change.
If global warming and climate change isn’t curtailed we could experience rising sea levels, floods and droughts as well as food and water shortages.
If global warming exceeds 1.5 degrees C even by half a degree it will create risks that any reasonable person would regard as deeply dangerous.
Experts suggest that reducing temperature increase to 1.5 c compared to 2c will result in approximately several hundred million people being less exposed to the issues directly linked to climate change.
Experts say that the next 10 years will be absolutely critical in determining what kind of world will exist in the coming centuries.
However, it’s important to remember that climate change and global warming isn’t a new issue.
In fact there have been several attempts and global discussions to tackle this.
One major example of this is the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty that extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This commits parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and was adopted in Kyoto on 11th December 1997 and then entered into force on 16th February 2005.
Another such attempt at reducing emissions and slowing climate change is the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) (CRCEES).
The CRC is a major UK governmental scheme designed to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency.
The CRC targets medium to large non-energy intensive organisations in both the public and private sector.
The scheme incentivises these organisations to adopt more energy efficient practices and technology.
In Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth he shares his keynote presentation which captured his vision.
It was based on mountains of compelling research and showcased a vital message for the world.
Here is a couple of the more staggering visuals he shared.
Src: https://www.duarte.com/portfolio/al-gore/ https://www.duarte.com/portfolio/al-gore/
Chapter Three – Who’s affected by Net Zero 2050
We’ve established the gravitas and size of the issue and the effort needed to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
But who exactly does Net Zero 2050 affect and who can help the country achieve this massive goal?
In short, pretty much everyone!
However, the UK is leading the way by becoming the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.
On the 27th June 2019 Chris Skidmore signed legislation to commit the UK to a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The UK is positioning itself as a world leader in relation to global warming and climate change.
Having already reduced emissions by 42% whilst growing their economy by 72%.
Chris Skidmore said “The UK kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions”. He continued by saying “Today we’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050”.
However, obviously achieving net zero emissions globally requires more than just the UK’s effort.
It’s a global issue that requires a global solution.
Countries that are expected to lead the way are countries who have signed the 2015 Paris Agreement.
As of writing 194 different states and the EU have signed the Paris Agreement, which is a commitment to achieving net zero emissions.
Controversially under Donald Trump the USA have signified their intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. This isn’t possible till 2020, however many policies which tie in with their leaving have already been put in place.
Here is a global map of CO2 consumption per person.
Chapter Four – What progress has been made to achieve net zero by 2050
With such a momentous goal it’s important industries start making progress as soon as possible.
In order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 there are a number of policy actions spread across key sectors.
These include: power, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, forestry and land use and waste.
Some of these sectors are making better progress than others.
In the following we will identify how the sectors are getting on and any milestones which have already been achieved.
The power industry has made good progress and has experienced the most significant reductions in the last five years.
The UK power industry has reached a number of coal free milestones. With change being driven by strong policies which favour using renewable energies.
In fact, coal fired power generation has fallen from a 40% share of electricity to 5% in 2018. This can be deemed a significant success.
Industry has been set an ambitious industrial decarbonisation cluster mission. With the government awarding £26m of funding for nine such projects.
The industry policy actions are detailed below in the net zero 2050 road map.
The transport sector has the largest amount of emissions of any UK sector with 23% of the total emissions. This is being combatted with more fuel efficient vehicles as well as biofuels.
Last year emissions dropped by just 2 percent and aviation emissions continue to be a big sticking point.
The building sector is lagging behind sectors such as power. With policy gaps remaining partly or completely unaddressed.
In fact energy efficient measures are being deployed 20% slower than the recommended rate. Furthermore, implementation of low energy heat pumps remains lower than required.
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY & LAND USE
Despite committee recommended policies being suggested three years ago there has been no changes in terms of reducing emissions. Furthermore tree planting remains well short of targets. A new environment bill should help to improve progress in this sector.
To achieve net zero emissions the waste sector needs to improve recycling rates by 2025 and prevent biodegradable waste going to landfills by 2035.
Renewable energy’s share of the EU energy mix is moving steadily towards the 2020 target of 20%. Source: Eurostat.
Chapter Five – A roadmap to achieving Net Zero by 2050
Now we have a decent idea of the current progress which has been made across all of the major sectors we can analyse the current roadmap for achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
By 2020 electricity must largely be decarbonised, it should also use renewables and be phasing out coal power. The power industry will be hugely influential in impacting the global effort to reach net zero emissions.
Hydrogen & Carbon Capture
The industry should be targeting large scale hydrogen power production with Carbon capture storage (CCS). Carbon capture storage could be an important method to reduce global CO2 emissions in the atmosphere whilst assisting the hydrogen industry.
One of the major areas in which buildings should improve in order to successfully contribute to net zero 2050 is efficiency. Buildings both old and new need to become more efficient in areas such as heating and power. Heat networks and heat pumps (new build, off gas, hybrids) are other ways in which buildings can help get on track.
Heat pumps are particular opportunities in new-build properties, homes off the gas grid, non-residential buildings and hybrid heat pump systems retrofitted around existing gas boilers.
The switch to Electric Vehicles is the major shift in the transport industry that could have the biggest impact on emissions. To reach net-zero emissions by 2050 it will be necessary for HGVs and cars to move away from combustion of fossil fuels and biofuels to a zero-emissions solution (e.g. hydrogen, battery vehicles).
Waste is a major global issue and one of the key pollutants globally. Therefore waste reduction also needs to be a priority in order to achieve Net Zero. Increasing recycling rates and landfill bans for biodegradable waste are methods that can be adopted to help the waste sector positively impact the Net Zero initiative.
Greenhouse Gas Removal
The Further Ambition scenario for the UK involves a substantial amount of CO₂ removal from the atmosphere, largely through the use of BECCS. Under current accounting rules the emissions credit for that removal is allocated where the CO2 storage occurs, rather than where the biomass is grown. Access to CO2 storage, and the most suitable sites for BECCS plants are therefore the key criteria in sharing this abatement within the UK. Development of policy framework is therefore a key criteria for greenhouse gas removal, also the exploration into alternative options would be beneficial.
Achieving net-zero emissions will require new infrastructure. Development of new infrastructure will be important in opening up new avenues for decarbonisation, for example CCS and hydrogen. Expansion of electric vehicle charging networks and electricity grid capacity will be important in facilitating strong growth in electric vehicles. Decisions on gas grids & HGV infrastructure will also be important in achieving Net Zero.
The targets for 2030 in terms of electricity is firstly to expand the electricity system and increase electrification. The second major target is to decarbonise peak generation. Deployment of sustainable bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) is the third major target, deployment will need to start sufficiently early (e.g. by 2030) to build up to a potentially large contribution from BECCS in the longer term.
In order to develop the hydrogen option, significant volumes of low-carbon hydrogen must be produced at one or more CCS clusters by 2030, for use in industry and in applications that would not require initial major infrastructure changes. More broadly, plans for early deployment of CCS must be delivered with urgency – CCS is a necessity not an option for reaching net-zero GHG emissions.
Widespread electrification in buildings in order to reduce waste and increase efficiency should be introduced. The expansion of heat networks could prove beneficial in achieving net zero emissions, the expansion will need to continue throughout the 2030s in order to potentially achieve this.
Turn over fleets to zero emission vehicles, bringing forward the switchover to electric vehicles earlier than 2040 will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and on the pathway to this, improve air quality, and be financially beneficial to the UK.
The targets in industry for 2030 consists mainly of further CCS, introducing widespread use of hydrogen and some electrification in certain sectors.
The target for waste is to limit emissions from combustion of non-bio wastes. As well as reduce food waste.
Greenhouse gas removal
Deployment of BECCS in various forms. Deployment of sustainable bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) will need to start sufficiently early (e.g. by 2030) to build up to a potentially large contribution from BECCS in the longer term. The use of other renewals could also prove effective in removing greenhouse gases depending on progress.
In some cases the infrastructure already exists (e.g. the electricity grid), but in other cases, such as hydrogen and CCS, infrastructure is not yet available to provide this support. CCS infrastructure will be important for innovative removal solutions technologies such as direct air capture of CO₂, in addition to deployment of CCS in industry, and on fossil and bioenergy generation. The introduction of hydrogen infrastructure could also significantly help achieve Net Zero.
Chapter Six – 10 things your organisation can implement to help achieve Net Zero
We have now reached the stage where positive action around climate change is no longer a choice, it is a necessity. Doing nothing is no longer an option. Everyone must take action and contribute positively in some form.
Given the time sensitive nature of the climate crisis, achieving net zero should be the main priority for everyone, including energy companies.
One of the ways in which your company could help with the conservation of our planet is to align your objectives with the Paris Agreement and its central aim of keeping the temperature increase to a 1.5C limit for this century. (link to https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement)
Communicate your purpose! Make it clear to everyone the reason for changes or innovations and why you feel it was important to make these alterations.
28 informative initiatives were announced at the climate action summit in September 2019, such as implementing government policies in line with a 1.5C temperature limit trajectory, which will help investors make sure-footed decisions to trust in the carbon-zero companies of the future. This is just one of the many initiatives your company could support.
Collaborate to innovate! Work in cooperation with other companies and individuals in order to create effective and efficient innovations. Remember everyone is after the same thing Net Zero and the sharing of information and innovations can be the best way for this to happen.
Everyone can contribute! Share your ideas – even small adjustments to daily tasks can help, such as turning off equipment when not in use.
Engage with experts. There have been great technological and knowledge advances in recent years regarding, not only climate change but also methods for tackling climate change. Using the resources and information gathered by these experts can save time and can be greatly beneficial for you and your organisation.
By adopting more efficient methods of production, there are opportunities for both cost reduction and compliance with Carbon Legislation.
Using spreadsheets and statistics to monitor your energy usage will ensure that even the smallest changes mean progress. Continual review of your company’s production methods with a focus on renewable energy could help build a culture that shows the world that you care about the customers you provide for, as well as the world they live in.
Get smart on climate governance. Climate governance has had a growing influence over businesses and other states. Regulations can be very significant and can require action on your behalf, being aware of climate governance regulations can help your organisation massively.
Commit 100%! Doing nothing is no longer an option, action is necessary and for your action to be effective you will need to be 100% committed to reducing your emissions and achieve Net Zero. By committing fully to a new, eco-friendly business model, the corporate landscape could create a better world.
These are just 10 suggestions that can help you and your organisation reduce emissions and achieve Net Zero, there are also many other options that could also help!
Chapter Seven – What do the experts or scientists say?
We believe in the power of science and evidence.
In the following chapter we’ve compiled statements and insights from leading climate change experts and scientists so you can have the unfiltered proof of climate change.
“Since 2001 we’ve seen 18 of the 19 warmest years. Ever.” – Skye Gould / Business Insider
“Four of the five hottest years on record have happened since 2015.” – Climate Central
“The planet’s oceans absorb a whopping 93% of the extra heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere.“ – Reuters / Rodrigo Garrido
“Warming threatens coral reefs worldwide. At present rates, it’s expected that 60% of all coral reefs will be highly or critically threatened by 2030.” – International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, Business Insider
“In 2012 Greenland lost more than 400 billion tons of ice. Which was almost quadruple the amount of loss in 2003.” – Chasing Ice
“Warmer water is contributing to more frequent and intense hurricanes.” – Business Insider
“A warming planet leads to more extreme weather, both cold and hot.” – Business Insider
“In November 2018, the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California’s history started during the rainy season.” – Business Insider
“As the climate warms, California’s wildfire season is getting longer because the snowpack melts sooner.” – Business Insider
“I think the 1.5 degree target is out of reach – we may blow past that by 2030”. – Stephane Mahe / Reuters
“If the world were to meet its most ambitious climate-change goals, average winter temperatures in the Arctic will still rise by up to 5 degrees Celsius by the year 2050.” – Reuters / Thomas Peter
“In the summer of 2012, 97% of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s surface started to melt.” – Climate Central, National Snow & Ice Data Center
“The world’s coastlines may be unrecognisable by 2100 even with moderate sea-level rise.” – Skye Gould / Business Insider
“If we do nothing to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, roughly 5.3 million more acres are projected to burn each year in the US by 2100.” – EPA.gov
For further reading checkout “Net Zero The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming by Committee on Climate Change”.
Chapter Eight – Net Zero Frequently Asked Questions
What does net zero emissions mean?
This refers to the achievement of balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal, or eliminating carbon emissions altogether. If a company is net zero, the energy used by a company annually is roughly equal to the level of sustainable energy produced.
What is climate change?
Climate change is the increase in extreme weather and sea level temperatures as a result of increasing CO2 emissions.
Is limiting the temperature rise to 1.5degrees possible?
Rapid reduction of carbon emissions, changes to reduce meat consumption in our food systems and massive upscaling of land, 1.5C can be achieved while improving wellbeing in people.
How will climate change affect people?
Eventually, rising sea levels and temperatures will cause homes to be flooded, animals to be extinct and the global population to experience increased water scarcity.
How is climate change affecting the UK?
In 2003, Britain had the most intense heatwave in over 500 years, which resulted in 2000 deaths and highs of 38C (101F).
What progress have we already made?
In 2017, the UK powered itself for a full day without the use of coal for the first time since the industrial revolution, and announced plans to phase out all coal-powered power plants by 2025.
How can I cut my own emissions?
Simple changes to your daily routine – such as cycling short journeys instead of driving, reducing the amount of meat consumed in your diet, carpooling when possible or taking public transport.
Chapter Nine – Net Zero Country Roundup
As climate change is a global emissions and we need all countries and organisations to play their part.
Let’s take a look at what countries are currently leading the way in reducing emissions and greenhouse gases.
Denmark had been leading the way in terms of helping to save the planet from climate change. However in recent times has reversed many environmentally friendly policies. For instance the decision to invest in highways rather than electrified roads that the government had previously promised.
With the EU headquarters located in Belgium, they need to be seen as setting an example for fighting climate change. Despite a complicated federal political system which is divided by region the country is committed to the EU’s target to cut 1990 carbon emission levels by 20 percent by 2020. It’s even started shutting down the last of its coal powered power plants.
Due to their economic recession years ago Portugal put progressive policies that encouraged local arts and decaying architecture rejuvenation. In addition to this Portugal focussed on creating green jobs and revamping its energy system. This has led to Portugal promoting a low carbon economy and investing in sustainability across different industries and territories.
As an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sees rising sea levels as a real risk. As such they’ve transferred their focus to switching from oil usage for energy to solar and gas-fired plants. Helping Malta to become one of the leading fighters against climate change.
Compared to the EU, Luxembourg has shown its clear intention of hitting their goal of reducing CO2 emissions. In fact between 2015 and 2016 Luxembourg reduced CO2 emissions by 4% compared to the EU average of 0.4 percent.
Though Morocco currently relies primarily on the use of fossil fuels for energy, experts have identified that Morocco has favourable conditions for wind, solar and hydro power. And the Government is committed to utilising their natural resources.
After suffering a series of debilitating droughts Cyprus has experienced the effects of climate change first hand. As such they are doing the best job of cutting down on greenhouse gases year on year. Emissions from Cyprus increased by 52% between 1990 and 2012 but have been decreasing by an average of 3% every year since 2008.
The UK experienced their first 24 hour period on April 21, 2017 without coal power since they kick started the Industrial Revolution. The UK government is committed to shutting down its last coal fuelled plant by the year 2025.
Sweden are paving the way in the battle against climate change with relatively low carbon emissions combined with an efficient recycling system. A recycling system which is so efficient they need to import rubbish to keep their recycling plants running. Sweden are aiming to shift 100 percent of their energy production to renewables by 2040.
However, no country is doing enough to fight climate change. This is evidenced by the Climate Change Performance Index leaving the top three positions blank.
Here is the top 17 places in the Climate Change Performance Index as of 2019.
What are companies doing?
In order to tackle climate change 87 companies have pledged to slash their own greenhouse gas emissions. Pledgers cover a diverse range of sectors from food to telecommunications to cement. The aim is to steer multinational corporations to a low carbon future.
Here are some climate change pledges made by companies and organisations.
Nestle, Saint-Gobain and L’Oreal have all pledged to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Other businesses that include Nokia, Danone and AstraZeneca have stopped short of committing to becoming carbon neutral but will align their business operations with limiting the increase of average global temperatures to 1.5c as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Further pledgers include:
BT Hewlett Packard Enterprise Levis Strauss & Co India’s Mahindra Group Royal DSM SAP Signify Unilever Vodafone Burberry, Singapore’s City Developments Limited Deutsche Telekom Electrolux Ericsson Group Firmenich IKEA Schneider Electric SUEZ
With these 87 businesses worth a combined total of $2.3trn and with direct emissions that equates to 73 coal fired power plants this is a gauntlet thrown down to countries’ governments to be more ambitious in their policies and plans for combating climate change.
Chapter Ten – A Brief History of Climate Change
As we mentioned earlier, climate change is by no way a new issue.
In fact, in 1965 a US President’s Advisory Committee panel warned that the greenhouse effect is a matter a matter of “real concern”.
In 1987 the Montreal Protocol became the first global environmental initiative with the objective to prevent the production and use of ozone depleting chemical products. Alteration to refrigerants and aerosol products have successfully started to reverse ozone depletion in the atmosphere.
Three years later the IPCC produced its first Assessment Report. It concluded that temperatures had risen by 0.3 to 0.6C over the last century and that human based emissions are adding to the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases.
Then in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro the United Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed. With the objective of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrates in the atmosphere.
Nine years later the IPCC released its third Assessment Report which provided new and stronger evidence that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases were the main cause of global warming seen in the second half of the 20th century.
The IPCC’s next report in 2007 concluded that it was more than 90% likely that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for modern day climate change.
A couple of years later in 2009 China overtook the US as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. Though the US remained significantly ahead on a per capita basis.
Then data released in 2011 showed that concentrations of greenhouse gases were rising faster than in previous years. The IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report in 2013 stated that scientists are now 95% certain than humans are the dominant cause of global warming since the 1950s.
The IPCC are currently working and scoring their latest Assessment Report which will be released in a couple of years time.
Chapter Eleven – Conclusion
So there we have it.
If you’ve made it this far you should have a pretty decent understanding of Net Zero 2050 as well as climate change as a whole.
We’ve established the importance of Net Zero and hopefully provided you with enough information to help you and your organisation play your part in achieving net zero by 2050.
You should also have an understanding of how each sector is currently performing and what they still need to do to achieve this goal.
Finally we’ve provided you the background and history of climate change so you can see how things have changed over the last few decades.
As this is a live and ongoing issue we’ll continue to update our guide and countries progress so make sure you check back later.
Thanks for reading!