News | Published February 06 2020

Report contradicts government's faith in technology to meet climate change targets

A report has been published stating that breakthrough technologies should not be relied upon to meet climate change targets.

The report, co-authored by academics from Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Bath and Imperial College London, is to be debated in the House of Lords today.

It had been hoped that technologies, such as carbon capture and hydrogen, would aid a reduction in emissions by 2050.

The 2050 target mandates an almost absolute reduction in carbon emissions by this time, with any further impact offset by tree planting and other similar activities.

According to the academics behind the report, ministers should consider technology an added bonus for reducing our carbon emissions, as opposed to an expectation.

Hydrogen technology involves the generation of hydrogen from water or natural gases, while CCS captures CO2 emissions and either buries them in rock formations or finds an alternate use for them.

It had been predicted that CCS would provide just under one third of clean energy. Another third would be made up of nuclear energy and renewable power.

This prediction was inaccurate, primarily due to the fact the so called “nuclear renaissance” is yet to occur. CCS funding was withdrawn by the government, and renewable energy costs declined.

It notes: “Businesses and the public want to act to eliminate emissions, but exaggerated claims about the speed at which new technologies can be introduced are holding back progress.

“Relying on breakthrough technologies to achieve zero emissions by 2050 is risky and delays action.”

If current rates of renewable expansion continue, the UK is expected to have four times as much emission-free power by the 2050 target. This will supply 60 per cent of current energy-using activities if they are to become electrified.

The report contradicts both the prime minister and the health secretary, who have put their faith in technology to solve the problem.

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
February 06 2020

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