Not so long ago, renewable energy pioneer Dale Vince (who we interviewed here) challenged Gordon Brown, the UK's new prime minister, to adopt a target of zero carbon emissions by 2050. At the time we thought this was pretty ambitious, but now it seems the folks at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales (who are also the people behind WISE - Wales Institute for Sustainable Education) have their sights set even higher — they claim that Britain could be practically a zero carbon economy as early as 2027. Aside from producing the short animation above, the CAT team have just published a 114 page report (downloadable here), with accompanying website that aims to set out a strategy for reducing energy use by 50%, and meeting the country's remaining energy needs with renewable sources. While the scale of CAT's ambition is clearly high, the report is already attracting some notable support — the following comes from the foreword by Sir John Houghton, former co-chair of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, and former Director General of the UK's Metrological Office:
"zerocarbonbritain comprehensively takes on board all these components and demonstrates how they can be integrated together. It also recognises the inevitable implication of a target close to zero-carbon and develops, in detail, a possible energy strategy for Britain. For such a strategy to be realised in the time scale required, it is vital that government and industry work much more closely together, both nationally and internationally. The authors of zerocarbonbritain present a time-scale for action that begins now. I commend their imagination (coupled with realism), their integrated view and their sense of urgency, as an inspiration to all who are grappling with the challenge that climate change is bringing to our world."
The full details of the report are far too long to list here, but recommendations include a near total shift to electric-powered modes of transport, the introduction of tradeable personal carbon rations, and a large reduction in the farming of livestock. In terms of the renewable energies envisioned, wind and wave power are expected to play by far the largest role, with an emphasis on power storage and demand management for when supply's run low. This would be backed up by what the report calls 'firm renewables' namely tidal and biomass sources that provide a reliable, predictable source of energy. ::Zero Carbon Britain:: via CAT::