The UK can reduce its energy demand by 60% and reach net zero using existing technologies, without relying on carbon capture and storage (CCS).
That’s the suggestion from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), which says significant changes to energy, buildings, transport, industry, diets and land use are needed to decarbonise and create “natural carbon capture” through the restoration of forests and peatland.
It suggests to reach a carbon-neutral economy by the planned deadline of 2050, it is necessary to ‘power down’ energy use through increased efficiency and behaviour change, while ‘powering up’ clean renewable energy supplies and transforming land use.
‘Powering down’ energy would require high ‘Passivhaus’ standards to be implemented for new buildings, as well as wide-scale retrofits and temperature controls being installed – the report notes this could reduce energy demand for heating by around 50%.
It calls for increased use of public transport, more walking and cycling, more switching to electric vehicles and flying to be reduced by two-thirds, in order to reduce energy demand for transport by 78%.
Project Coordinator Paul Allen said: “Relying on speculative future technology to get to net zero risks overshooting the remaining carbon budget, resulting in the very real possibility of global temperature rises of 2°C or more.
“By modelling a zero carbon scenario using only technology that is ready to be rolled out at scale, CAT’s research shows that there is no good reason to take this risk. We have the technology to combat climate change and we can start today.”