The UK has an obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and in particular CO2 emissions by 50% before 2025 and then 80% by 2050, but will we succeed?
What are greenhouse gasses?
Greenhouse gasses are compounds which keep the earth’s surface warmer than it would be if they were not present by trapping heat within the atmosphere, this causes what we call the greenhouse effect. The more of these gasses the stronger the greenhouse effect.
Without these gasses and the greenhouse effect, the earth average temperature would go from 14.4°C to around -18.1°C. If the earth were to be at this temperature then life as we know it would not be possible, meaning some greenhouse gasses are essential for life. However, it is getting to a point where the increase of the earth’s temperature is resulting in things such as melting ice caps, drastic changes in weather patterns, and shifts in habitat effecting biodiversity, all a cause for great concern.
What are we doing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?
One of the worst generators of CO2 is coal, however, the UK has been powered for over a thousand hours this year without coal. The UK government, within the ‘coal phase-out’ have laid out rules meaning all coal power stations will be forced to close by October 2025. One of the UK’s Eight remaining stations is expected to shut this year, following 3 other stations which shut in 2016.
UK emissions fells by 5% between 2015-2016 meaning the UK is leading the race to ‘beat’ emissions.
1990 has been used as a benchmark from which the UK has to improve from, and since that point, our greenhouse gas emissions have fallen a whopping 41% including the main cause (carbon dioxide) which has been reduced by 36%.
This reduction has largely been driven by energy suppliers. Within the first 3 months of 2018 over 30% of the energy supplied was by renewable energy sources, which has all allowed them to cut their emissions by 57%!
By comparison, the transport industry has only reduced their emissions by 2%, resulting in them, and other sectors, being condemned for not doing enough.
Housing is one of those sectors, where companies such as Persimmon have been ‘named and shamed, by giving a bonus of £110million to their CEO, yet not insulating their houses which would allow customers to both lower their energy usage and their bills.
The UKs Goals and Commitments
The UK government has made many promises around how it is going to combat greenhouse gas emissions, and with their legal obligation to reduce their 1990 CO2 equivalent emissions 50% by 2025, and then by 80% by 2050, they’re going to need to live up to them.
Many things such as insulation, changing the way people commute and energy production can help to reduce these emission. The UK has stated such, with ambitions to end sales of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. It has also been said by rail minister Jo Johnson that they would like to see all diesel only trains off the tracks by 2040, to be replaced with alternatives such as hydrogen.
Overall, the government is doing a lot to help ensure our emissions go down such as phasing out coal and other fossil fuels, however, there are still big segments such as agriculture, public transport and home usage which need to be pushed harder.
Are we doing enough?
Although the UK has come leaps and bounds in reducing its carbon footprint, this is largely thanks to the suppliers. They have been pro-active in phasing out coal energy whilst increasing the use of renewable sources such as turbines.
It is other sectors that are hindering our progression, meaning as the energy suppliers advancements begin to plateau, the progress must be picked up and carried forward by other sectors, and the public.
One of the biggest impacts everyone can have to make a difference is to ensure our homes are as energy efficient as possible, and the biggest factor for most homes is energy waste through poor, or missing insulation.