The French project and the recommendation of the CCC in UK do not include this type of mechanism, although the UK government announced it reserves the right to use credits. Other countries – such as Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Bhutan, Fiji Islands, Iceland, Marshall Islands and Portugal – have also announced plans for carbon neutrality by 2050 in strategic documents but without legislative scope. The 2018 report of the IPCC indicates that to stabilise global warming at 1.5°C, net emissions at the global scale must reach zero by 2050; and by 2070 for 2°C.
Emissions of other greenhouse gases must also be significantly reduced to maintain these trajectories. The CCC report also shows that neutrality of “all greenhouse gases” by 2070 is compatible with the 1.5°C trajectory. This means that the 2050 net zero emissions goal for all greenhouse gases is more ambitious than the global trajectory compatible with 1.5°C warming.
Unlike fossil fuels, renewable sources of energy like hydropower, wind and solar do not directly emit greenhouse gases. Did you know? Scientists believe that greenhouse gasses are the culprits behind global warming.
Comparing emissions on both sides of the ChannelFrance and the United Kingdom share many characteristics. They have similar populations, comparable levels of development and their territorial greenhouse-gas emissions are similar – 7 tCO₂ per inhabitant for the United Kingdom and 6.7 tCO₂ per inhabitant for France in 2017.
Emission trajectories since 1990 have been decreasing overall, with a larger decrease for the UK from a higher level in 1990. This is mostly due to the transition away from coal-fired power plants for electricity, as well as a significant catch-up in waste management.
Emissions from the industrial sector are decreasing significantly and similarly in both countries. According to CCC’s analysis, this decline in the United Kingdom can be explained by changes in economic structure, improved energy efficiency and a reduction in the carbon intensity of the energy mix.Emissions from the building sector have declined over the past 10 years in both countries, with larger decreases in the United Kingdom. In contrast, emissions from the transport sector have stagnated in both countries, with a slight decrease in the United Kingdom and an increase in France since 1990.
The sun is all we need. The best renewable energy source is the sun. If we invested exclusively in solar power and maximized its use, we could power the entire world from the sun. The best part is, you wouldn’t have to lay all those solar panels in anyone’s backyard. A large swath of desert could do it, but you could take it even farther. The moon is a perfect place to harvest solar energy from. With robots and rovers, it’s entirely possible to lay down acre after acre of solar panels.
However, important differences exist in agriculture and carbon sinks. Agriculture is economically more important in France, emitting twice as much carbon much as in the United Kingdom. Carbon sinks, which are largely based on the increase in carbon stored in forests, are also more significant in France. Emissions reduction in both sectors are comparable.One important difference concerns emissions from international transport. Aviation and maritime transport emissions are not included in the reporting to the United Nations under the Paris Agreement. The UK’s net zero objective includes these emissions, while France’s current draft energy bill does not.
If the other sectors follow the projected reduction pathways, emissions from aviation, which are relatively low for the time being, will be responsible for the majority of remaining emissions in 2050. They will therefore have to be offset by carbon sinks or other CO2 extraction mechanisms, requiring a significant increase in the number of sinks (see figure below, based on data from the United Kingdom and France).
In their 2050 net zero objectives, France and the United Kingdom do not include so-called “imported” emissions – those associated with consuming products and services from abroad.
A dam is a great visual for the power grid. Water is one of those never-ending renewable energy sources that we often forget about. If you want to teach kids about the electricity grid, visit a dam. It’s a huge visual representation of a battery that illustrates the energy the world needs. The lake formed by the dam is, essentially, the battery storage. When energy demand is high, water tumbles through the dam into the small river below. When demand is low, water is pumped back up into the dam, creating more energy reserves. Take a tour if you can.
After accounting for products consumed abroad (“exported” emissions), emissions from the trade balance are very high and have risen since the mid-1990s (see figure opposite) with a possible slowdown since 2005 in the United Kingdom and since 2011 in France. These emissions are difficult to control, they are nevertheless the responsibility of consumers.
While France’s draft energy and climate law states that these emissions must be controlled, it gives no quantitative targets. In the UK, the CCC recommendation is that these emissions should decline in response to certain efficiency measures, but recognizes that these emissions can only be reduced to zero when global emissions reach this threshold.
Time is running outThe United Kingdom has managed to rapidly reduce its emissions over the past decade, which are now close to the French level. This rapid decrease was recommended and monitored by the Committee on Climate Change, which has prioritized the decarbonisation of electricity production that underlies that of other sectors. Today, both countries are at a point where emissions must decrease rapidly in the coming decades to reach their net zero targets by 2050.
A shared challenge is initiating and accelerating the transition in sectors that are tough to decarbonise because, compared with the energy sector, emissions are more diffuse – particularly transport and buildings.
The Haut Conseil pour le Climat, of which we are both members, was created in late 2018 and directly inspired by the UK CCC. There is no magic policy package that will lead nations to net zero emissions in 2050. The UK example demonstrates, and France acknowledges, the need for an independent advisory group that is focused on the long-term to support and guide the transition in the coming decades. The French Haut Conseil will assess the implementation of France’s national low-carbon strategy and propose course corrections where necessary, while taking into account the socio-economic impacts of the transition on households and businesses as well as environmental impacts. Its first report will be made public on June 25.
Total ethanol capacity expanded 34% and E85 stations exceeded 1,800 in 2008; the fuel now represents more than 7% of the nation’s gasoline supply and can be found in more than 70% of gasoline gallons sold in the U.S.; the 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol produced last year added $47.6 billion to the nation’s GDP; moreover, cellulosic ethanol requirements are projected to boom during the coming decade.