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Zero carbon Britain: rethinking the future

This report explores how Britain can achieve Carbon neutrality. Building upon the groundwork laid by the Zero Carbon Britain project over the last six years, the authors incorporate the latest developments in science and technology, plus more detailed research in two main areas: balancing highly variable energy supply and demand; and the nutritional implications of a low carbon diet. The report highlights the need for further research on adaptation, economic transition and policy that would achieve sufficient greenhouse gas emissions reductions quickly and equitably. From a broader viewpoint, the report also highlights the need to incorporate greenhouse gas emissions associated with Britain’s ‘historical responsibility’ as a long-industrialised nation, and with imported goods and services (‘carbon omissions’), into international policy negotiations. By making changes to our buildings, transport systems and behaviour, and by investing in a variety of renewable energy generation technologies suited to the UK (without a nuclear component), the authors argue that Britain can provide a reliable zero carbon energy supply without negatively impacting on quality of life. Smart demand management, plus the intelligent use of surplus electricity in combination with biomass to create carbon neutral synthetic gas and liquid fuels, mean that the country can meet our entire energy demand without imports, and also provide for some transport and industrial processes that cannot run on electricity. Further requirements for the scenario envisioned in the report are significant changes to our diet, lowering agricultural emissions, and a significant reforesting project to capture carbon and provide sustainable building material.