Sunday, 19 September 2010

Zero Carbon Britain

The Centre for Alternative Technology has recently published Zero Carbon Britain 2030: a new energy strategy (the 2nd reportof the Zero Carbon Britain Project). I can't recommend this highly enough - the Executive Summary should be on the desk of every Member of Parliament and the leader of every local council. The report can be bought from bookshops, or direct from CAT, or can be dowloaded as a PDF (a very large one!).

The report is the result of collaboration between a wide variety of contributors, across many sectors, and consequently their conclusions are highly authoritative. The report is wide-ranging and demonstrates how - with political will and suitable investment, Britain could indeed become zero-carbon by 2030, and could create new employment and economic activity at the same time.

The 20-page Executive Summary provides an overview of the blueprint. A useful citizen action would be to download the PDF, as above, print off the summary, and send copies to your MP, your local council, the managing directors of any large manufacturing or construction companies in your area, the chief executive at your place of work (if you're in employment) . . . and anyone else you think of. Send it with a polite note urging them to read it, and telling them where they can get the book or the whole PDF.

The first section, 'Context', consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 is a 20-page overview of the current consensus on climate science. This is an excellent chapter, gathering together in one place what is known, what can be predicted with confidence, and what is not yet clear. Chapter 2 is about UK energy security, covering production and imports of fossil fuels, global energy security, peak oil, and the interaction between energy security and climate change. Chapter 3 addresses equity - how the poor in this country and the global poor will be impacted by the coming changes and what we must do to create equity - ie: justice - as the world changes.

The second section, 'Power Down', is the longest of the book. Chapter 4 looks at climate change and the built environment, and what we have to do with existing housing stock, existing non-domestic buildings, and new-build in both sectors. 27% of all UK carbon emissions are from energy use in our homes - therefore, what we do as individuals really makes a difference. Chapter 5 looks at transport, both passenger transport and freight. A useful graph gives the relative emissions per passenger mile for different kinds of transport. The development of electric cars, being re-charged overnight (thus spreading out the demand on the electricty grid), are shown to be a viable part of the new pattern, along with more use of public transport and walking/cycling.

A very important Chapter 6 looks at motivation and behaviour change - without which all the technical solutions in the world won't work. The value-action gap is a significant factor: it takes more than good intentions to change deep-seated habits and convenience behaviours. Interesting research from DEFRA is quoted, looking at how different sectors of the UK population respond to climate change.

In a section entitled 'From barriers to motivators' they suggest that we need to 'enable, encourage, engage, exemplify' different segments. DEFRA looks at 7 target audiences, based on their research:
  • Positive greens (18%) – high potential and willing [enable and engage]
  • Waste watchers (12%) – low willingness, moderate potential [encourage, exemplify, enable]
  • Concerned consumers (14%) – moderate willingness, quite good potential [enable and engage]
  • Sideline supporters (14%) – moderate willingness, moderate potential [enable and engage]
  • Cautious participants (14%) – moderate willingness, moderate potential (but a bit less of both than the ‘sideline supporters’) [encourage, exemplify, enable]
  • Stalled supporters (10%) – low willingness, low potential [encourage, enable]
  • Honestly disengaged (18%) – very low willingness, very low potential [encourage, enable]
In another section, on 'Engaging and motivating action' they use a 3-fold model:
  • Pioneers – inner directed, concerned with ethics, exploration, innovation (40%)
  • Prospectors – outer-directed, esteem-driven, concerned with wealth, position, glamour (40%)
  • Settlers – security-driven (in Maslow’s terms), concerned with home, family, community (20%)
Since the 1970s, there has been a fall in ‘settlers’ and a consequent rise in the others – a shift away from 'traditional values'. In terms of new behaviour, pioneers lead, prospectors follow, and settlers follow the prospectors. Pioneers are the largest motivational group; prospectors follow their example but not their values and underlying motivations. Their suggested strategy is to target the prospectors in relation to climate change action. Traditionally, the messages and approaches to communication about climate mitigation behaviours have been created by pioneers – and their messages don’t address the concerns and motivations of the prospectors. The point is focus the message on the audience, and not on the problem.

The third section of the book, 'Land use', covers agriculture, meat and other food, biomass for power generation, crops for biofuels, active carbon sequestration in the soil, woodland management, biochar, livestock management, and grassland. They also look at diet, nutrition, biodiversity, the nitrogen cycle, and replacement of fossil-fuel derived fertilisers.

The fourth section is called 'Power up', and focuses on renewable energy sources. The authors examine the current pattern of electricity demand and supply in the UK, and then look at off-shore and on-shore wind power, hydropower, biomass, biogas, landfill/sewage gas, solar power, wave power, concentrated solar power, and tidal power. They propose a particular mix of renewables that will generate the power needed in the UK. They then look at the options for space heating - biomass and heat pumps - and at how the whole mix can fit together. Chapter 9 examines the changes needed to the power grid to take account of all these different inputs - distributed generation and microgrids (also known as peer-to-peer energy).

The final section of the book, 'Framework', looks at policy, economics and employment. It starts with a quote from  Geoff Mulgan (former Director of the Strategy Unit, founder and former Director of the thinktank Demos, and now Director of the Young Foundation):
"Governments underestimate what they can do in the long term and overestimate what they can do in the short term."
In this chapter the authors examine global carbon pricing, cap-and-share, Kyoto2, global carbon tax, allocation of national carbon budgets, regional carbon pricing schemes, cap-and-trade, tradable energy quotas, and national carbon taxes. They examine financing the Green Economy, protecting the vulnerable, and making the switch to renewables.

In the final chapter thy look at the Green New Deal and 'green jobs'.

This is a comprehensive analysis and set of proposals - and it's ongoing work, of course. You can catch up with the latest developments at ZeroCarbonBritain.
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1 comment:

  1. Britain could indeed become zero-carbon by 2030. Sounds very encouraging to hear this from such a respected source. I will publicise this more widely at my web site , now I have seen this. thanks for posting.