Renew On Line (UK) 64

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 164 Nov-Dec 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. Energy Review and the RO

2. Scotland Accelerates
3. Micro power doubts
4. UK’s first combined PV and wind system
5. Marine Power - wave and tidal ups & downs
6. Tyndall say 90% CO2 cut needed
7. Local Biofuel growth stalled
8. Ramblers fear wind farms
9. Carbon Rationing
10. Planning for Decentral Power
11. UK funding for sustainable energy
12. UK Roundup
13. Renewables in Europe
14. World Renewables
15. Nuclear News

6. Tyndall say 90% CO2 cut needed

In a new report ‘Living Within a Carbon Budget’, commissioned by Friends of the Earth and the Co-operative Bank, the Tyndall Centre, Manchester says that ‘the government’s carbon reduction policies continue to be informed by a partial inventory which omits the two important and rapidly growing sectors of air transport and shipping... There is a clear void between the scale of the problem and the actual policy mechanisms proposed.’

They note that UK carbon emissions have in fact not fallen at all since 1990. And while the government talks of a 60% cut in emissions being need by 2050, the Tyndall Centre says that a 90% cut is needed by then. However they say that this can be achieved if we get going quickly: ‘The real challenge is making a radical shift within four years and driving down carbon intensity at an unprecedented 9% a year for up to 20 years’.
Otherwise much more drastic cuts will be needed later.

Key findings of ‘Living Within a Carbon Budget’:

• The UK must emit no more than 4.6 Giga-tonnes of carbon between 2000-2050 if it is to deliver its fair share of emission cuts to achieve a concentration of 450 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere- this is our ‘carbon budget’.

• Carbon dioxide emissions have not fallen in the UK since 1990, despite claims to the contrary by the Government which has ignored emissions from international aviation and shipping. Emissions have actually increased in recent years.

• Immediate government action to reduce energy consumption and drive innovation is needed and possible. A comprehensive programme of action must be implemented within the next four years (i.e. by 2010). If action is delayed much beyond this then the scale of cuts will have to be much greater.

• As long as action is taken now, it will be possible to live within this carbon budget and have a healthy, growing economy and enjoy lifestyles not radically different from today. The longer we leave it, the more radical the changes will need to be.

Living Within a Carbon Budget suggests the following:

1. Introduce a legal framework to reduce CO2 emissions year on year in order to keep cumulative emissions well below 4.6 Giga-tonnes of carbon between 2000-2050. The Government must report on progress annually.

2. Drive innovation through technology forcing standards and fiscal measures for all sectors. The use of carbon taxes, product regulations and tough caps in industrial emissions trading are all important tools.
3. Give high priority to energy saving through introducing, for example: a duty on energy providers to reduce total energy consumption; world-leading building standards in housing and business sectors; mandatory regulations on car fuel efficiency and other products; reduced speed limits for cars and planes and encouraging a shift from cars to public transport.

4. Discourage unnecessary use of cars and aeroplanes to reduce and reverse the growth in road use and aviation through, for example: land use planning; presuming against planning permission for infrastructure that will lead to further carbon dioxide emissions such as new roads or runways; and fiscal measures on inefficient vehicles and aeroplanes.

5. Invest in, and support the development of, a low-carbon infrastructure, for example through: infrastructure for larger trains, bus lanes and safe routes for cycling and walking; and electricity grid improvements for decentralised energy production and large-scale renewable energy generation.

6. Ensure the use of fossil fuels is as efficient as possible and, when a regulatory regime is in place, carbon capture and storage is used as standard where possible. Use carbon capture and storage as a bridging technology until all energy needs can be met through renewable sources.

One way to stimulate the change over, they say, could be by personal carbon rationing, but like the ideas for speed limits, this could be unpopular: but if nothing else, perhaps talk of a 60 mph motorway speed limit and even speed limits for planes, may act as a wake up call about the importance of climate change.

Key Tyndall Centre findings on energy include:

• Innovation is critical- government intervention is needed to drive it.

• Greater levels of innovation or more aggressive Government action could achieve even greater cuts in emissions and further reductions in fossil fuel use- there is a need for a strong focus on reducing energy.

• With greater support renewables can play a very significant role in meeting energy needs.

• Hydrogen, produced by renewables and fossil fuels incorporating carbon capture and storage, will be an important energy carrier .

• It is possible to satisfy energy needs and live within this carbon budget without recourse to nuclear power.

The research suggests that in 2030 total energy use could be reduced by 20% and fossil fuel use by over a third. Using cleaner fuels and capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and storing it could result in carbon dioxide emissions being reduced by 70%. By 2030 renewable power and bio-fuels could provide a quarter of all energy needs, and 36% of electricity, with on-site micropower supplying 15% of electricity. Looking further ahead, by 2050 energy use could be reduced by half and fossil fuel use by 70%. Emissions of carbon dioxide could be reduced by 90%. Bio-fuels and renewable energy could provide 40% of all energy, with building-integrated micro-renewables supplying around a third of electricity.

Energy efficiency is a priority. The research suggests that ‘consumption of electricity for appliances could be kept constant (e.g. through regulations on minimum efficiency) and that very large savings could be made by reducing energy demand for space and water heating. Action in this area could reduce energy demand in houses by a third by 2030 and around 60% by 2050. Office buildings and shops could also make significant cuts through greater thermal efficiency.’

In the transport sector, the report notes that ‘trains are the cleanest form of mass transport, producing on average only a quarter of the carbon dioxide that cars emit for the same distance and just over 10% compared to domestic aviation. Investments in train infrastructure, such as longer platforms for longer trains, could make an important contribution to meeting emissions targets as could investing in infrastructure for double-decker trains. Requiring manufacturers to produce more efficient cars, and improving the efficiency of buses, are critically important, as is regulatory and fiscal action to force innovation in aviation’. Overall the research suggests that transport emissions could be cut by over half by 2030 without reducing mobility.
It notes that hydrogen ‘is unlikely to be used as an energy source much before 2030, where it will power mainly industry and some public transport’, but suggests that between 2030 and 2050 hydrogen could be used to meet 15-30% of final energy demand.
It adds that behavioural change can be encouraged, for example through cheaper public transport to support modal shift. It can also be mandated, for example by reducing speed limits. Simply enforcing the 70 mph speed limit would reduce CO2 emissions from road transport by 3%. It suggests that ‘cutting car use by around 10% by 2030, together with increased occupancy levels in better buses and trains, could be an important contribution in making significant carbon dioxide reductions from surface transport’.

In addition ‘technology has the potential to make very large cuts in emissions from road vehicles. The fuel efficiency of the UK car fleet has actually decreased recently despite manufacturers’ voluntary agreement with the EU to improve efficiency.’ Instead they suggest that ‘the amount of carbon dioxide released per car kilometre could be cut by two-thirds by 2030’.

Although they note that there are fewer technological options for cutting carbon dioxide from aviation than in other sectors, they do not propose grounding the airfleet. However they say current rates of growth are unsustainable (aviation emissions grew by 11% between 2003 and 2004), and that Government intervention- such as increased taxes and a cap on airport expansion- is required to curb that growth: some journeys such a domestic flights will need to be switched to cleaner forms of transport. They suggest that ‘Any future growth in passenger air miles will have to be met through even greater energy efficiency gains. For example, the airline industry may need to improve efficiency by, say, 10% before an increase in passenger miles of 1% is allowed so that overall emissions are still substantially reduced. Increased mobility without much greater efficiency gains (in both aviation and private car use) would require other sectors such as industry to make deeper cuts in emissions. Economically this could be impractical; politically it would be contentious.’

FoE has produced a summary ‘The Future Starts here’. The full Tyndall report is at:

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