Zero Carbon Dorset
In July 2013, the Centre for Alternative Technology published the report – “Zero Carbon Britain – Rethinking the future’” This report, ZCB as it is known, demonstrates that Britain could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero using only current technology. The report also asserts that we can do this whilst maintaining a modern standard of living, and meeting our energy demand at all times with 100% renewable UK energy sources. Additionally, it points out we could benefit from:
- Creating around 1.5 million new jobs in the UK
- Increasing our resilience to climate impacts we are already experiencing.
- Helping address other environmental issues such as loss of biodiversity.
- Fostering a society in which we are happier and healthier.
The current target set by the UK Government in the Climate Change Act 2008 is for a reduction of CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. The timescale of ZCB is that zero can be achieved by 2030.
In 2015 the Paris agreement was heralded a success by declared its determination to endeavour to limit the emission of greenhouse gases so as to prevent a global temperature rise of more than 20C; after a special plea from the low lying countries, e.g Bangladesh, the Maldives, Tuvalu, etc., the rider was inserted that the aim should be to limit the rise to not more than 1.50C. Subsequently to the signing of this agreement at the end of 2015, there has been a further encouraging development in that, within one year, unprecedentedly enough countries have ratified it so that it has now become a globally binding responsibility on all countries.
However, the reality of climate change as it unfolds literllay before our eyes is that one of the main problems resulting from the excessive emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (the troposphere), is the melting of the Arctic, and has become far more serious than hitherto thought. The Guardian Weekly has recently reported that the northern ice cap, which has been shrinking since the 1970s, with global warming driving the loss of about three-quarters of its volume so far, is now experiencing a heat increase that has shocked scientists, with temperatures of between 200C and 330C above average. These massive and rapid increases are affecting the weather patterns throughout the northern hemisphere.
Scientists have always advised that basic climate change can induce positive feedbacks, i.e. factors that re-inforce the basic problem, already itself a serious situation. One of these feedbacks is the melting of the methane beneath the ice which is now visible throughout the arctic north. Peter Wadhams, who has been studying climate change all his professional life recently published his book “A Farewell to Ice”. In it he warns that the methane (CH4) in the Arctic ocean is estimated to be more than thirteen times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Furthermore, methane is known to be twenty three times more powerful than CO2. In consequence we face a feedback force of 300 times that of basic global warming so far in the Arctic.
The irony is that the planet can supply all the energy we need, many times over, from renewable sources, i.e. Wind, Wave, Tidal, Solar PV, Solar thermal, Geothermal, Hydro, Biomass and Ambient heat. The report from the Centre for Alterative Technology (Zero Carbon Britain) shows how this could be achieved in Britain by 2030; other reports also corroborate this claim. However, the report makes very clear that achieving the state of zero carbon emissions can only be achieved if this powering up of energy from renewable sources can be accompanied by a corresponding powering down of current energy usage 60%.
There is no doubt that an enormous amount of effort and drive has been developed by numerous agencies in Dorset to enable us to play our part in meeting the national climate change target. However, da21 would like to explore whether a “Zero Carbon Dorset” project could add value and focus to the existing efforts.
The vision of Sustainable Dorset (da21) is therefore to endeavour to bring together the current profusion of effort within the county into one cohesive whole –
1) to showcase this total effort and
2) by so doing, to encourage and stimulate even greater efforts by both organisations and individuals. In the county.
The need for this vision was so eminently emphasised by the title of the address by Sir Ghillean Prance to last year’s AGM “Nothing is sustainable unless we address climate change”. Tackling climate change therefore is not just a problem in itself, it is the key to a sustainable world.
If anyone would be interested in joining a ZCD group, please contact Colin DewsnapMore Info on ZCB