Towards a low-carbon economy

The UK government has set a target of cutting the country’s carbon dioxide.


The UK government published its draft Climate Change Bill on 13 March 2007. Key points include a series of targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions - including legally binding targets for a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and a 26 to 32% reduction by 2020 (against a 1990 baseline). The closing date for responses to the Climate Bill is 12 June 2007 - see www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/legislation/index.htm

The Climate Change Bill is the first of its kind in any country and the targets are challenging but some people believe these to be still too low if we are serious about tackling the global problem of climate change.

However, even a target of 60% less carbon dioxide translates into a fundamental re-thinking of how we get our food, build and operate buildings, travel and do business.

Final energy consumption by sector

Final energy consumption by sector

The target for cutting carbon dioxide emissions is only part of the story, though. Energy demand grows every year, and the 60% target gets larger and larger in real terms. Before long, this will become a major problem as we face up to the fact that constantly growing energy demand is ultimately unsustainable.

Shares of fuels contributing to primary energy
supply; fossil fuel dependency

Shares of fuels contributing to primary energy
supply; fossil fuel dependency

The Industrial Age has brought the problem of climate change, but the story of the last few hundred years is not wholly negative. There have also been positive steps in our understanding and inventiveness about how to find solutions to the problem. Urban wind energy in the twenty-first century is about much more than renovating old windmills.

 

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