How to get to Zero Carbon

How to get to Zero Carbon.pdf

I outline a vision of how a nation state such as the UK can get to a near-zero carbon energy system in 20-30 years. I will argue that we need to get to zero carbon if we are to stabilise the atmosphere’s greenhouse gas concentrations and the oceans’ acidity – if we are to stop turning up the heat in the global saucepan. I will argue how we can get to near-zero carbon in the UK and other developed and developing countries, if we make some difficult choices over our future energy supply. Over the next 20 years, the UK will need to construct of the order of 150GW (annual average rate of electricity generation) low-carbon electricity capacity from nuclear and renewable sources, and from fossil fuels using carbon capture and storage sources; plus an international power grid. I will show what we need to do in terms of policy to make this a reality. Proposed policy includes a global contractual minimum carbon price (or equivalent in terms of electricity) for new energy investment (with higher prices paid for those who invest most rapidly), and an upstream carbon tax (with border-tax adjustment) for a nation-state such as the UK or a larger coalition of nations serious about tackling climate change. In other words, I demonstrate how a bright future can be a plausible evolution of existing political structures. I will show how action on a national and supra-national level is feasible. Finally, I suggest that individual and collective awareness-raising about policy solutions can lead to a plausible route to a safe and secure future.