Climate change: could Britain be zero-carbon?

Climate change: could Britain be zero-carbon?

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It’s an issue on which a 92-year-old David Attenborough and 16-year-old Greta Thunberg agree. (Subscribe:

An issue with existential consequences – both for the future of life on Earth and the future of our lifestyles.

Now, the UK’s climate change committee wants us to achieve a zero carbon target by 2050, with all the sweeping sacrifices that entails. Others want us to do it much sooner. But even if the UK achieves it, what about China and the USA, the world’s biggest polluters?


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the UK government must act now to halt global warming putting into law a new 2015 Net Zero emissions target that's the message from the committee for climate change which urged number tend to bring in legislation by the autumn and insured tougher policies are in place for all parts of British life we've done the work we've seen the science we know that we can achieve Net Zero by 2050 all we need is the government to say yes now urgently why not be more ambitious well very simply because the facts are you can't do it we can go to Net Zero by 2050 and when we've done it we in Britain will no longer be contributing to global warming while extinction rebellion may claim it doesn't go far enough most climate scientists say this is a big step forward this report is a big deal the government specifically asked for advice on is it possible technically and economically to get to Net Zero and this report unequivocally says yes it is which is not something that anyone could really have said 10 years ago but getting to zero carbon involves massive changes across the country the firmest policy demand is to bring forward the electrification of cars from 2040 to 2030 by next year government will need to present a clear home heating plan to end the use of gas boilers in the UK consumers meanwhile we'll have to eat 20% less steak lamb and dairy and with aviation targets also capped it could be much harder for another runway to be built at Heathrow on top of all of this the report outlines plans to plant 3 billion new trees and the cost of all of these changes up to 43 billion pounds a year we need to do a lot of the things that we intend to do more quickly why on earth are we building houses today which aren't ready for the climate change that's happening leave alone playing its part in stopping more climate change and cars car as well the government's got an aim of becoming all-electric by 2040 that's far too late it ought to be by 2030 and that's because Road Transport is the single biggest cause of co2 emissions in the UK but switching to electric faces a lot of practical problems Frederik de valois says it's been an uphill battle to roll out the required charging infrastructure so it's been really challenging actually because we started with a target of 6000 charge points within the m25 in London we had a committed budget of hundred million pounds and we are in 2019 on we have only 1,000 chart points in the ground and it's not just charging points that are falling short less than 1% of cars sold in Britain are pure electric vehicles and many have waiting times of more than six months the report also sets its sights on home heating and house builders in 2015 George Osborne dropped a ten-year plan to have Newbill zero-emissions home a u-turn that has left a bitter taste for many campaigners I think it was actually one of the most disastrous decisions certainly in the environmental area because let's face it those new homes are going to last a century people will be paying more on the fuel bills and emitting more it was a terrible decision and it led to a lot of industry skepticism about government holding by what it says it's going to do and then there's Heathrow so far the airport industry has claimed expansion here can be done within existing targets but the committee has warned that aviation can't wriggle out of its fair share of carbon cuts and while today's report makes big demands for all sectors of the economy it's the government who faced the biggest calls for action if it doesn't act then the world will know that it hasn't taken all the evidence it has refused the remarkable opportunity that it now has and if it doesn't it would have failed absolutely helliya Brahimi reporting work with me now a Ferrari yameen lawyer who helped negotiate the Paris climate agreement and has taken part in the extinction rebellion protests here in London and Bob Ward who's from the Grantham climate research institute at the London School of Economics welcome to you both Tirana let me start with you I mean I think personally 2050 sounds like a very ambitious target for the laundry list that the government has come up with you don't think that soon enough do you it isn't unfortunately I wish I could join in the congratulations and at the moment it's not commensurate with science the budgets and the assumptions that are based on essentially throw small island states and least developing countries under the bus so which target egg would you like to see I think it has to be much sooner we'll get to the back way it has to be somewhere in the next 10 years in the next 10 years in the next 10 years you want 23 million households to stop using gas boilers because if we legislate and have an emergency efficiency act yes we can it's gonna be very costly and some people I'll be able to afford it because we need to allocate the funding in the next CSR to do that Bob or is it realistic by 2030 to have that kind of change well the the 2025 target extinction rebellion have been arguing for it's just not feasible and the analysis published today proves that let me tell you why it's dangerous to go for that is it those 23 million households if you rip out their central heating now you don't have a plan for giving the meeting you're going to expose lots of people who are vulnerable to the cold to the possibility of dying next winter so if you introduce plans that you can't deliver on you will disrupt and damage lives and livelihoods you will also create opposition to any further changes so the 2050 target is consistent with those eyes is consistent with the IPCC's report which showed that if you want to reach one and a half degrees with our minimum overshoot you need the world to be at 70% you need the world to be at net zero emissions by 2070 at the latest Iran some of these fees feasibility isn't a fact it's a set of assumptions that's driven by political will so it's up to us to decide whether we want an emergency energy efficiency act to take up all of the wind winds that you know people like Bob have been pointing out which have not happened it is up to us to decide to allocate the relevant spending from the Treasury to these actions we can organize that we're not saying that people should be without heating in homes we're saying people should be absolutely climate action is an issue of social justice but we haven't treated it as well you know this government hasn't been able to organize brexit now what you are asking for whether it's 2030 or whether it's 2050 is a fundamental revolution of the way that we live our lives can a democracy even organize something like that Bob well we're gonna have to because the consequences of not doing it are going to be truly terrible the science is very clear about this that we are going to face a world which is just going to be very difficult for us to live in and our children our grandchildren so we have no choice but it we have to go down a path that we know that we can deliver on a fire is quite right greater urgency greater determination from policy makers at the moment we're not even on target to meet the carbon budget for the late 2020s and early 2030 that were under a week in a minute so we had people we had dinner London is getting very upset not all of them but some of them were the fact that you know you block dinner at 5:00 you know important parts of London and the traffic came to a standstill how would you get people to make the sacrifices they need to make to meet those targets yeah in a democracy the demands of extension rebellion are to set up a national with perhaps city wide and authority wide citizens assemblies we absolutely agreed that this has to be done with people not against the will of the people and citizens assemblies are the true way in which people can be brought on board people understand what to do in an emergency and what's been missing is governments and citizens working hand-in-hand what we've relied on and I think Bob can agree with me here is a set of voluntary approaches essentially Mark Carney as much penetration beyond and what does he propose is a set of voluntary codes for banks to report financial risk but okay but you're honestly you're asking for a political revolution before you have the climate revolution and you're not going to get that political revolution well I think Michael goes in the meeting that extinction rebellion had with him was very interested in the idea of citizens assemblies we've left citizens behind in so many parts of our decision-making that's why we actually were in a brexit crisis we also had discussions that exceeding billion with the Sadiq Khan he also expressed interest in the concept of assistance assembly maybe with London maybe as part of a National Assembly and I think we've got to look very carefully at how citizens are being left behind and assumptions being made about what they will or will not do okay we we don't need a citizen's assembly we know what most of those policies are we do get on and do it energy efficiency is a no-brainer we shouldn't be having the worst we know how to change it get on the politicians and get them to do it it's not about technical analysis Bob's done so many of them and that's alright we didn't have other people with us gotta break it up but it is important Bob Ward for Ronnie I mean thank you very much indeed thanks Matt well environmental protesters have been targeting one firm at the center of Rao's over fracking INEOS whose founder so Jim Ratcliffe claims the country is being deprived of cheap energy the chemical producer is now bankrolling the Tour de France winning cycling squad formerly known as Team Sky the newly renamed team INEOS were booed by protesters at the start at the Tour de York ship from Yorkshire Yorkshire here's our chief correspondent Alex Thompson and they're off Doncaster today for la dipper v TDY 130 riders 19 countries 384 miles over four days in God's own County but in the town's Market Square protesters had gathered early incensed that the plastics oil and fracking giant INEOS should sponsor a cycle team in the very county it wants to open up to fracking among them three borough councillors boycotting invitations to pre-race hospitality to protest instead it's about going to renewable energy and if the adds an inkling of cents that would go into that and they'd start making a profit from it straight away into wind farms into solar energy we're in the midst of the climate crisis you know there is absolute consensus that that's the case and the last thing we should be doing is starting a new fossil fuel industry donkus the council passed the motion we're opposed to fracking in Doncaster with anywhere within our land and that has cross-party support it was unanimous in the gallery not every Yorkshire man or woman feels that way of course and order some of their MPs even in areas which face potential fracking we've got 23 million homes in the UK connected to the gas supply for heating and cooking so all need in any scenario any energy scenario we'll need gas for some decades to come a key question will we import half our gas today do you want to import more and more gas as we will be doing or do want to produce it from our own natural resources protesters gathered in Doncaster this morning were having none of that the presentation therefore of the in yours team was always going to be a mixed affair [Applause] frak off INEOS the repeated shout is he bothered the new sponsor in yours boss Britain's wealthiest man personal net worth more than 13 billion dollars currently reported as moving to Monaco no sir Jim Ratliff is not polit I wouldn't want to get involved in ooh who's difficult dangerous they've been fracking conventional wells for 60 or 70 years all the wells in the North Sea the frack domain everybody there's nothing all we do is pump water down and it just loosens her off of it that's all so you know I think it's a great shame that the north of England were an important part of the economy is manufacturing is being deprived of cheap energy the potential fracking map of England it's banned in Scotland shows large areas of Yorkshire could be fracked in your says it would even frack under the North York Moors National Park if it could Friends of the earth have now issued an open letter to the team in your cycling boss so Dave Brailsford saying INEOS are using cycling to greenwash its image Brailsford well he's attracted his share of controversy in sport down the years rap lives angered environmental groups for years both men are simply shrugging it off and the cycling well today the tour stage entered countryside potentially earmarked for fracking further protests are expected over the next three days Alex Thompson Channel 4 News in the East Riding of Yorkshire

47 thoughts on “Climate change: could Britain be zero-carbon?”

  1. I am on a global mission to spread to everyone I know that climate change
    is not real. I am a teacher and thousand of children a year that
    climate change is a farce. The world needs to know the truth and not
    believe the stupid. Idiotic people and governments love to tell us lies.

  2. I am on a global mission to spread to everyone I know that climate change
    is not real. I am a teacher and thousand of children a year that
    climate change is a farce. The world needs to know the truth and not
    believe the stupid. Idiotic people and governments love to tell us lies.

  3. I am on a global mission to spread to everyone I know that climate change
    is not real. I am a teacher and thousand of children a year that
    climate change is a farce. The world needs to know the truth and not
    believe the stupid. Idiotic people and governments love to tell us lies.

  4. There are no solutions to the problem, simple as that really. If you wanted to stop environmental pollution
    Affecting the climate then the industrial revolution should never have occurred, and we are nearly 200 years too late
    For that, and it may be that humans should never have left the Stone Age, and we are thousands of years too late for
    That. Going back to a pre industrial, Stone Age Society is impossible, and people should acknowledge that.
    All forms of energy, have their drawbacks, even renewables like wind and energy.
    We are told we must radically change our lifestyle and reduce vastly our standard of living, but even if we could do this,
    And that is highly doubtful to say the least, it will take a lot longer than 30 years, 300 years may be more realistic,
    And even that is not certain.
    Most of our environmental problems will take hundreds of years to solve and of course by then it will be too late,
    And even now it may be too late already.
    Of course, I hope to be totally wrong, but I believe the destruction of humanity is inevitable, and has been inevitable
    For a very long time now. Either climatic changes or a nuclear war, with the world still awash with thousands of nuclear weapons,
    And the number apparently set to INCREASE, will kill humanity off. It is only a question of which one it will be, maybe a combination
    Of the two, and when.
    Sorry, by all means try, but a zero carbon economy may never be practically possible.

  5. The Real answer NO NO its not going to happen this is appeasement politics kick to can down the road or just simply lies lies and more lies when are the people of this country going to wake up, the politicians are liars always have been and if we let them always will. The real dumb thing is a large part of are population in the UK continue to believe them and all they say. The railway executives have informed there managers to travel by AIR because its cheaper !!!!!!!!!. and where having a new runway at Heathrow why because where going to gave less flights ??????? and there are more and more PETROL cars on the roads together with larger and larger HGV s. As you can see its all going in the right direction . The London congestion zone and low emission zone are simply another tax its still congested its still has high levels of pollution. Parliament an institution not fit for purpose and not working in the public-interest . Vote them OUT for ever.

  6. Zero emotions mean no goods vehicle on the roads no cars only electric no ships at sea no planes flying no diesel back up generators no millinery vehicles as they all run on diesel
    The uk would go bankrupt the economy will collapse aircrafts don’t pay any tax on fuel and they are the biggest polluters of the air Teresa mays zero emitions in the uk is a joke the woman is a total crackpot
    And they should certify her as insane she is a total wast of space.

  7. so a thousand people in the uk don't drive a car for a week, give up smoking cigarettes & put all plastic waste into a bin.
    then suddenly britain tests a nuclear weapon, sends fighter jets to syria & cannabis is legalised, which wipes out all those good intentions.
    if britain scraps trident & makes smoking cannabis illegal, it will be making a stand for climate change.

  8. Britan is done already. You won't even stand up for yourselves why you are getting demographically wiped out by immigrants. Climate change movement will take everything else away from you. They will tax EVERYYING of your carbon footprint. You will be very poor yet easily controlled by the government.

  9. Humans need to reduce rubbish and polutants absolutly but water is a heat conducter and when we have 65-70% ocean cover, good look stopping the tide kanute! we need to stop immigration of 3rd worlders breading like rabbits and increasing food production demands and as a result, increasing polution producing by-products and rubbing out native conservitive breading european populations that till post globalistic e.u migration laws enjoyed a relitivly peacfull harmonic cultures and security for life and finance. the chinese are heavy poluters but want to build entire cities in european countries like Belarus using the latest low carbon tech- they are knocking an entire ancient forrest down to build it! facepalm.

  10. In order to stop the global warming all the countries in the world need to work together otherwise it makes no sense … You will shutdown polluting factory in UK they will move to the country without these laws and they will export to UK creating as much pollution as they want, what's the point ??

  11. Need create new university of green energy, university of bio fuel, university of energy effective materials and new town designs. It is big industry. On the construction possible to use local materials for develop own economy.

  12. The aerosol masking effect , also known as Global Dimming, tells us that progressing to a cleaner atmosphere makes things instantly and catastrophically worse. Why is this simple and incontrovertible fact not being mentioned? Some call it the McPherson Paradox.

  13. The consumer shouldn't pay for their new boiler u div were asking the govorment to pay for them for the people under a certain uncome as thst is what's REQUIRED. Not rocket science.

  14. Controlling Carbon Dioxide is a totally pointless activity proposed by a bunch of scientifically and technologically illiterate politicians. If one ignores the rantings of hypocrites like the Green's and propaganda from organizations like BBC and also the writings scientifically illiterate reporters employed by Mainstream Media and goes directly to the scientific papers one will find that the dominant greenhouse gas in the terrestrial atmosphere is water vapor not carbon dioxide. It is difficult to exactly allocate a specific portion of the greenhouse effect to a particular gas. But as a approximation 90 percent is due to water vapor and 10 percent due to carbon dioxide is good starting point. All the disruption to peoples lives and the UK economy that reducing carbon dioxide emissions to zero would entail is just not worth it. It is just stupid pointless virtue signalling. The UK is only responsible for approximately 1 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions.

  15. Our atmosphre has only just over 8 CO2 and almost 7% of that is naturally occurring means Global warming is a myth. All This is scaremongering to sell products that cost more money to the consumer.

  16. Renewable energy isn't cost free to the environment you far left hippies, solar panels and wind turbines require the materials to be mined from the earth, transported and then replaced and disposed of, if you're serious about worrying about climate change the only logical answer is nuclear, of course these cultists are illogical.

  17. Communitarian astroturfing. Same formula every single time; "problem", reaction, pre-prepared "solution" (Agenda 21 / 2030).

    "Climate Change" is a secular eschatology for the Dunning-Kruger generation.

  18. According to her mother Malena Ernman (48), 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg can see CO2 with the naked eye. She writes that in the book ‘Scenes from the heart. Our life for the climate’, which she wrote with her family.

    Greta was diagnosed as a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger’s syndrome, just like her younger sister Beata. The activist also has a photographic memory. She knows all the capitals by heart and can list all the chemical elements of the periodic table within one minute. In addition, she has another gift according to her mother.

    “Greta is able to see what other people cannot see,” writes Malena Ernman in the book.

    “She can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye. She sees how it flows out of chimneys and changes the atmosphere in a landfill.”

  19. 2050 – 20 years too late. Yet houses should be OK now, as climate is warming in summer and less cold in winter. Current heating will be required a lot less so changing boilers can be done over a longer period. On the other hand, 80% of our economy is based on it's population consuming. But what they consume (meat, clothes, electronics) creates tons of CO2. There's currently no answer to that. We are also going to go out and use 1.5 BILLION gallons of oil buying G5 mobile phones! We also make dumb decisions like changing from the printed book (zero carbon) to E-Readers (not zero carbon – by a long way)! All this tells me there is a gap between what we AND politicians want and what is actually required

  20. I can't really think of any country in the developed world that's done nearly as much to reduce emissions as much as Britain has, taking the next step though requires careful planning .. while slowing down climate change certainly is important, if sweeping changes are made haphazardly it's going to have an unacceptable impact on the general public and the economy. Fracking can be addressed now, much of the other issues raised will realistically take much longer.

  21. What is carbon footprint of a torn down home? The actual detritus and power to take it away…, what is carbon footprint of new building materials, what's the carbon footprint of building a green house? What's the carbon footprint of miracle power source?

  22. I remember my brother who is a PhD Microbiologist telling me that those who had most faith in Darwin's theory on the origins of species were those who knew least about it. Even the most basic knowledge of fossils and microbiology especially showed it to be so shot full of assumptions that all fell down in ruins when DNA was discovered that only a chimp could still believe in it. Some other organising force was behind things that was yet to be discovered.

    And so it is with man-made global warming when time after time in the records we have going back billions of years we see episode after episode where CO2 levels shot up usually preceded by heating events of 5 to 10DegC, i.e. not causing the heating but being caused by it, or vast volcanic CO2 inputs that shifted the temperature barely a jot. CO2 has never caused the temperature to run out of control in the last 4billion years and no reason to think it will now. Meanwhile plants are thriving all over the world because of it.

  23. No such thing as man made global warming. This country is a proper joke. The suns gonna eat this planet up eventually so live life man. Earths gonna be destroyed anyway so let's all party like it's the 1800's again and bring back smog by burning fossil fuels and massive car tyre fire pits

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