From manufacturing to planting trees – new campaigns!

Siemens 2.3 Megawatt Floating Offshore Wind Turbine

Visit our website today, and you might see some changes. That’s because DecarboniseNow is expanding its activities. From today, we will now be running five campaign streams across multiple sectors to fight climate change in the UK.

Electric vehicles

With transport emissions remaining the highest of any sector, and the enormous potential of electric vehicles to slash that, electric transport remains our top priority. Not only do we want to see a 2030 ban on conventional cars and vans, but we want to make sure that the strongest incentives exist for a rapid transition away from oil fuelled cars and vans. To do this want to;

-Implement a binding ban by 2030 on petrol and diesel cars and vans, including hybrids.

-Roll out stronger purchase incentives for electric vehicles, such as continuing and potentially increasing the plug in car grant and temporarily scrapping VAT on electric vehicles. Also ensure that automotive companies are required to produce a certain number of electric vehicles to move in the UK market.

-Ensuring that charging infrastructure keeps pace with this rollout, and that the electrical grid gets the reinforcement capacity it needs to upgrade for electric transport.

-Introduce fiscal incentives for electric and hydrogen HGVs.

Find out more here.

Warmer buildings

Arguably, the buildings sector has made the least progress out of any sector in the UK on reducing emissions in recent years. This is largely due to falling rates of installations of energy efficiency measures in UK homes. The government must be bold and turn this around with an ambitious home retrofit programme, slashing fuel poverty and improving living standards for millions in the process. Even with the most efficient housing stock, it is still inevitable that the UK will have to switch away from its addiction to fossil fuel heating. The UK will have to make tough decisions on whether to electrify its heating or switch to hydrogen gas – or a combination of the two. With millions of homes connected to the gas grid, this will be an enormous challenge, and is one of the biggest barriers to reducing the UK’s total emissions. We propose;

-The government currently has a target for all homes to be EPC Band C or higher by 2035, and a preferred trajectory for all non-domestic rented buildings to be EPC Band B by 2030. We want the government to commission a major government review on best practise to implement this, and commit to the necessary funding required.

-Ensure a successful implementation of low carbon heating in all new homes from 2025 or sooner.

-Ensure all off gas grid homes are switched over to heat pumps by 2030.

Find out more here.

Renewable energy

The backbone of decarbonisation, renewable energy has already taken off in the UK, defying critics to deliver a third of our electricity and going from the most expensive form of energy to the cheapest. But past successes don’t mean we can allow a job well done – the last surviving coal plants and a large fleet of gas turbines still power the UK. Ambitions plans for offshore wind power must be met with good plans for onshore wind and solar, and well as ensuring that the plans for all three turn into reality on the ground over the next decade. To avoid relying on gas to keep the lights on, we must also invest in a more flexible electricity grid that can take more variable energy flows. We must;

-Ensure government contracts provide the best deal for subsidy free onshore wind and solar.

-Ensure the deployment of the 40GW offshore wind target goes smoothly.

-Introduce a flexibility market for storage, demand side response, and other technologies to avoid relying on gas turbines for assistance power.

-Keep the UK in the pan-European Internal Energy Market, to ensure our imports and exports of wind power deliver value as cheaply as possible.

Find out more here.

Efficient manufacturing

Industrial emissions are a patchwork sector, and will require a very wide range of solutions to tackle. But making sure it’s simply used more efficiently will be a huge boost, both for emissions reductions and economic productivity. Ensuring that manufactured products are also used more efficienctly, such as being easier to repair and having longer lifetimes, will greatly reduce industrial emissions and waste. We propose;

-Introducing greater policy incentives to match the government’s 20% industrial energy efficient target for 2030.

-Implement resource efficiency standards, especially in notable wasteful sectors such as the automotive industry and construction.

Find out more here.

Afforestation

Planting more trees might seem like an obvious option, but the sheer scale and land required is a major challenge. Currently 13% of the UK is forested, and ‘hard to treat’ sectors such as the agricultural and aviation sectors are very reliant on the UK offsetting future emissions. If this land was doubled to 25% of the UK’s land area, this would offer the maximum feasible extent of forest cover, and do the most to capture the UK’s carbon emissions, and create space for nature. Therefore our goal is;

-For the UK to set a target for 25% of the UK to be forested by 2045, with relevant funding and planting rates per year supplied.

Find out more here.

There’s going to be a lot of movement in the run up to the UN climate summit in Glasgow this year. So making sure that the UK is doing everything it can on the home front will be vital to show the world how to decarbonise and how we can end climate change for good.

COP26 announcement: Our response

It’s off! The Prime Minister and none other than David Attenborough, launched the twenty sixth Conference of the Parties (aka COP26) at an event in the Science Museum this morning, in advance of the summit to be held later this year in Glasgow. Added to this was the announcement of bringing forward the ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans, notably including hybrids, from 2040 to 2035. This is a huge step forward, and we’re really proud to have been part of it, but there are some caveats that need to be considered.

First of all, 2035 is not 2030. It might be tempting to say it’s only five years difference, electric-cars-1068918_1280but with climate change being the emergency it is, and transport emissions being far and away the largest emitting sector in the UK, we really need to ask why we aren’t using 2030 as the end date. National Grid have said that the electrical grid can support the 2030 date, and fully electric vehicles are projected to be cost competitive upfront with conventional vehicles by 2025 at the latest. In short, there is no practical reason why 2035 should be considered instead of 2030, and this seems to be a precaution against potential ‘knee jerk’ reactions. Secondly, this was just an announcement of where the government is headed with this particular policy. A full consultation will be launched following today, presumably to be resolved and adopted into full policy before COP26. This does not mean this 2035 date will be set in stone, and all details may change before the policy is actually implemented – which could be good or bad, depending on which way the outcome goes.

That’s where DecarboniseNow stands, but what are we doing about it? Following up on our existing lobbying, we will be a voice in the consultation, urging the government to go faster, and outlining our ideas on how the phase out will work. We will press the government to move the ban to 2030, build up a coalition of campaigns, businesses and other interested players, and ensure the ban is enforceable, whilst making sure there are immediate measures to ensure the takeup of EVs. Even if all of this goes through, we will still be doing everything we can to ensure the rapid take-up of fully electric vehicles. But is that everything that DecarboniseNow will be doing in the future?

We also have something else to announce. DecarboniseNow is expanding its campaigns beyond electric cars. Now that we have more resources, we’re going to be expanding into a variety of low carbon campaigns. We will soon be launching campaigns on retrofitting homes, low carbon heating, wind and solar, public transport, electricity grid flexibility, resource efficiency, afforestation, HGVs, and industrial energy efficiency. This will be quite an expansion of our campaigns, but we feel we’re up to the challenge! More details to follow soon – watch this space.

In the meantime, we’re proud of the difference we’ve made, and thanks to all those who’ve helped us out so far!

Europe is stepping up its commitments on clean transport. We need to do the same.

As Elon Musk orders the first diggers into Germany to build his first European gigafactory, many British shoulders slumped in, if not shame, resigned disappointment. It seemed inevitable that the ‘home of the car’ would be welcoming gleaming Tesla Model S, X, Y and 3s off the production line, and whatever other model named after a random keyboard punch Elon designs in the future. That’s not too much of a bad thing globally. Germany emits more CO2 than the UK and France combined, and with the largest car market on the continent, it would be no bad thing for the country to switch over quickly to cleaner transport. The ‘er’ signifies the fact that the UK will phase out its coal plants to power these new vehicles in six years at the latest, as opposed to Germany’s nineteen, but that’s another story. Germany isn’t alone in this, in fact, the EU as a whole is starting to take a much stronger interest in decarbonising transport than previously.

 

tesla-car-electric-mobility-plug-battery
With a new Tesla gigafactory there, Germany can expect more of its car parks to look like this in the future.

From 2021, the EU will introduce new rules on automotive maker’s rules, stating that the average emissions of CO2 per vehicle sold from companies must be 95g per km, or large fines will loom. The easiest way of avoiding these for car companies are to build a certain number of electric vehicles to balance out their sales, hence there are a large number of manufacturers unveiling new electric models prior to 2021. But EU rules don’t specify any particular countries this need apply to, and the expectations is that sales will be higher in the more affluent car markets of France, Germany and other Western European countries. The result is that once the UK leaves the EU single market, there will be no requirements for car manufactures to do the same for the UK, and could likely to prioritise investing in the car markets of other countries.

 

Therefore, the UK while outside of the EU needs to maintain a competitive edge and showcase that there will be a large demand for electric vehicles in the UK market. No other market of a comparative size has a 2030 ban on conventional vehicles, which would go some way to making the UK among the most electric vehicle hungry countries in the world. The only EU countries with an earlier phase out date are the smaller markets of the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Ireland, with non-EU countries such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland also in this group. This ban would not be sufficient on its own – EU regulations are progressively implementing stricter emissions targets from 2021, so there would still be more immediate incentives for auto manufacturers. But this would send a strong signal to markets that the UK is committed to a total shift away from petrol and diesel vehicles. Additionally, the 2030 ban could be the start of a wider range of measures to phase out conventional vehicles, with the 2030 ban representing an end date and similar additional targets for auto manufacturers in intervening years to shape the direction of travel.

The future of the UK’s car industry will be shaped enormously by the wider decisions made in the politics surrounding Brexit. But the UK can and must still take action in areas in which it can control, whether our driver of 2030 is buying a German made Tesla or a British made electric Mini. The UK has a history of lagging behind in the car industry, but equally, a history of being far ahead of its European neighbours in new low emission technologies. Britain does have some disadvantages in the car industry, but there’s no reason why its policy on the type of vehicles on sale in the country have to match. Not only can the UK match the EU’s ambition on electric vehicles, there is no reason why it should not overtake it. A 2030 ban in the EU is unlikely due to having to pass through the decision making process of many more countries, and no such policy is outlined in the EU’s Green New Deal. The UK has the right political atmosphere to make a 2030 phase-out work, especially as the current government has pledged to review it, and there is no reason why interim targets cannot be more stringent than our European neighbours.