An Introduction to Zero Carbon

The Climate Action Group Stokesley and Villages is working to achieve zero carbon locally, but we need the whole of the UK and the whole of the world to achieve zero carbon to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

This page and the linked pages provide an introduction to issues which need to be considered and an overview of plans to get to zero carbon. The pages express an opinion of the plans put forward, but also provides links to further details on all the plans so you can make your own mind up. Please let us know / join us if you agree or disagree with our conclusions, have suggestions to improve these pages. We are all in this together so we all need to work together to find the solutions and will all need to play our part to save the world.

The need to get to zero carbon is explained on the page “Why do we need to get to zero carbon?” Basically increasing levels of greenhouse gases (CO2) in the atmosphere are heating the earth and causing climate change. Much of the CO2 is coming from fossil fuel burning or our land use, so we need to either stop burning fossil fuels or stop the CO2 from burning fossil fuels ending up in the atmosphere while repurposing much of our land.

To be very simplistic plans that have been suggested are along a spectrum which can be portrayed as being “business as usual” to “back to the stone age”, perhaps better stated as “little personal change” to “lots of personal change”.

The current UK strategy Net Zero – Build Back Greener and other recent government policies (such as “10 Point Green Plan“) as explained by our politicians are towards the “business as usual” end of the spectrum – they do require some changes, increases in public transport/no more fossil fuel cars, but do not use tax or laws to make major changes in behaviour rather largely relying on new technologies to make the difference, energy without carbon, cars without carbon, flights without carbon, etc.. Movements such as “Transition Towns” focus on changes in lifestyle which require less carbon and thus achieve zero carbon.

Is there a plan to get to zero carbon for the UK?” explains what is happening in the UK now. Currently there is no integrated government plan for the UK to get to net zero, until October 2021 when the UK’s Net Zero Strategy was released in the run up to COP26, there was no strategy but 78% reduction in CO2 emission is now enshrined in law.

While the UK Government currently doesn’t have a full plan, full plans do exist for the UK, partial plans also exist for the UK and the world more widely.

We feel that the “Centre for Alternative Technologies’ Zero Carbon Britain” plan is a good middle ground balancing behaviour change to reduce the need to emit greenhouse gases with rapid deployment of existing technologies to save/generate energy and changes in land us to absorb increasing amounts of carbon dioxide. Their report is worth reading for the detailed studies they have done taking weather data over 10 years to show how the lights will stay on.

In November 2020 the UK Government published the “10 Point Green Plan“, rather than a plan it is a collection 10 plans for area which the government is going to focus on to get to net zero.

A number of individuals have published there own ways to solve climate change.

In 2020 Bill Gates published his book “How to avoid a climate disaster“, which sets out his vision of how the world can get to net zero. The book highlights how a number of as often unproven technologies can get the world to net zero. His plan puts its faith in new technologies and businesses to allow us to carry on “business as usual”. While we don’t agree with the whole policy the book is a very thorough analysis of many of the challenges facing the world and many of the technologies mentioned will either be part of the solution or are tackling major challenges which need to be overcome, so if not that technology then how.

John Doerr, a less well known billionaire, published a rather more balanced approach “Speed & Scale – a global action plan for solving our climate crisis”. “Speed & Scale” while focusing strongly on technology, he includes a lot of information so you are able to judge the validity of his solutions and a some contributions from celebrities while strongly American makes the analysis broader than other single author approaches.

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