Documents to download

On 6 February 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Lord Browne of Ladyton (Labour) that “this House takes note, further to the report by UK FIRES, Absolute Zero, published in November 2019, of technological and lifestyle efforts (1) to address climate change, and (2) to meet the 2050 net zero carbon emissions target”.

UK FIRES is a research collaboration between five UK universities, the purpose of which is to investigate how to improve resource efficiency in industry. In November 2019 it published Absolute Zero, a report that describes how the UK could eliminate all its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The authors contend that the UK should aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to absolute zero, rather than the “net zero” target specified in the Climate Change Act 2008 (as amended). This would mean not using carbon credits and including international shipping and aviation in the UK’s carbon calculations.

UK FIRES also argues that politicians and other commentators have placed too much confidence in technologies that are not proven at scale to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Absolute Zero does not include any role for carbon capture and storage or hydrogen as a source of energy in its description of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, the Committee on Climate Change states that these technologies will be key in reducing the UK’s net carbon emissions.

This briefing provides an overview of the Absolute Zero report, background to the UK greenhouse gas emissions target and an overview of the Government’s clean growth strategy. It then provides brief descriptions of some of the technological and lifestyle measures that have been advocated to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. It compares assessments by UK FIRES, the Committee on Climate Change and the Centre for Alternative Technology about the potential and suitability of these measures.

Further reading on the net zero target, the Clean Growth Strategy, and various technologies is suggested in the relevant sections. General further reading is suggested at the end of the document.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Land use frameworks: integrating policies in England

    Planning and land use policies cover a wide range of considerations. These range from controlling the built environment to achieving environmental aims such as reducing emissions, as well as agricultural and economic objectives. Some groups have argued for the need for an overarching ‘land use framework’ to draw these together to ensure all policy aims can be met. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate this issue on 28 October 2021.

    Land use frameworks: integrating policies in England
  • COP26: changes to the ‘green book’

    On 28 October 2021, Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (Green party) is due to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what changes, if any, they plan to make to HM Treasury’s green book and related guidance to demonstrate global leadership as chair of COP26”. This article provides an overview of COP26 alongside an explanation of the ‘green book’ and recent changes made to it aimed at supporting the UK’s net zero target.

    COP26: changes to the ‘green book’
  • Nuclear power in the UK

    The House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative) that “this House takes note of the role of civil nuclear power in meeting the United Kingdom’s (1) electricity needs, and (2) energy security”. This article gives an overview of nuclear power in the UK. It looks at issues such as its role in meeting carbon reduction targets, safety and the disposal of radioactive waste.

    Nuclear power in the UK