Net Zero seems to have replaced traditional Carbon Budgets as the trendy word to be dropped into ‘techy’ conversation and energy-related news articles. But is it good for business? Is it expensive? What does it even mean?!
Net Zero, or Carbon Neutrality, refers to becoming so highly efficient that nothing is wasted, and any energy that is required comes from on or off-site renewable sources. Essentially, any greenhouse gas emissions that are generated by a business, a household or an individual would be balanced out by absorbing the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere through technological innovation or reforestation. Most projects refer to an absolute reduction in carbon dioxide, which is the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change.
There are international agreements setting out how countries plan to achieve a global Net Zero position. In a 2018 report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global carbon emissions need to be Net Zero by the mid part of the 21st century in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C. The UK is at the forefront of Net Zero and laws were introduced in 2019 to confirm the entire country will balance greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is one of the most ambitious Net Zero targets in the world and demonstrates the business case for becoming “greener”. Scotland has gone a step further and committed to be Net Zero by 2045.
The government expects around 2mn “green collar jobs” to be created across the UK and the growth of a low-carbon economy to £170bn a year by the 2050 deadline. Significant investment will be needed in existing and new “clean” technologies to achieve Net Zero; some sectors will flourish and others, like traditional oil and gas extraction, will weaken. There will be an emergence of new industry particularly around Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage, where harmful emissions are caught, used or kept somewhere safe (likely underground) and out of the atmosphere.
Net Zero will affect most aspects of our lives over the next 30 years. We will see changes to the energy used by our homes and businesses, the fuels that power our vehicles and the taxes that we pay. As the country responsible for the Industrial Revolution, and the associated bumper output of emissions, it is morally right the UK takes the lead alongside other more developed nations.
In order to thrive in a Net Zero economy, you’ll need to decarbonise your home and business wherever possible. Here are some (relatively) easy to follow steps to get you on your way:
The journey to Net Zero is not going to be an easy one, but it is one we should all endeavour to be on together. The choices we make now will have ramifications for decades to come. Net Zero is really going to happen and by thinking ahead, you can future proof your home and business.
Remember the Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”.