Being net-zero means that any greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere are balanced by removing an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The UK government has set a net-zero target for 2050, which requires the country to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, and this target was encouraged by the Committee on Climate Change.
Achieving net-zero is crucial to tackling climate change, which is becoming a more pressing concern as the planet gets warmer. The warmest 20 years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the problem is becoming even more significant in recent years. The primary cause of climate change is higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour. If we do not act to reduce greenhouse gases rapidly, global temperatures could rise as much as 3 to 5 degrees by 2100, which could lead to extreme weather conditions, heatwaves, flooding, and rising sea levels.
To achieve net-zero, the UK will need to cut emissions from homes, transport, industrial operations, and agriculture. For some industries, such as aviation and manufacturing, reaching net-zero will be too costly or complex, and so there will be a need for negative emission technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CSS). The cost of achieving net-zero is estimated to be around 0.6% of the UK’s GDP by the early 2030s, falling to approximately 0.5% by the target date of 2050.