Plans for the UK to become'carbon' neutral by 2050 have been released by Theresa May's government, but experts are concerned over how the proposals will work. The new report commits to ensuring that the emissions generated by the UK are offset by removing the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere. There are two main ways this can be achieved - by planting more trees and by installing'carbon capture' technology at the source of the pollution. Some critics are worried that this first option will be used by the government to export it's carbon offsetting to other countries. International carbon credits let nations continue emitting carbon while paying for trees to be planted elsewhere, balancing out their emissions.
It is the near future. You wake in a house warmed by a heat pump that extracts energy from deep below the ground and delivers it to your home. You rise and make yourself a cup of tea – from water boiled on a hydrogen-burning kitchen stove. Then you head to work – in a robot-driven electric car directed by central control network to avoid traffic jams. At midday, you pause for lunch: a sandwich made of meat grown in a laboratory.
Clean energy is improving but not fast enough to solve climate change, according to the International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook report. The 661-page report, which forecasts global energy trends up until 2040, says the electricity sector is currently undergoing its'most dramatic transformation since its creation'. One of the main reasons for this transformation is the rise of wind and solar power, but it is still is not happening fast enough, the report found. If current trends continue the global demand for oil will keep rising to at least 2040, largely driven by an increase in demand from developing countries. Clean energy is improving but not fast enough to solve climate change, according to the International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook report (stock image) 'If the world is serious about meeting its climate targets then, as of today, there needs to be a systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies', said Dr Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency (IEA)'s Executive Director.
Engineers and geologists have strongly criticised green groups who last week claimed that carbon capture and storage schemes – for reducing fossil fuel emissions – are costly mistakes. The scientists insisted that such schemes are vital weapons in the battle against global heating and warn that failure to set up ways to trap carbon dioxide and store it underground would make it almost impossible to hold net emissions to below zero by 2050. "Carbon capture and storage is going to be the only effective way we have in the short term to prevent our steel industry, cement manufacture and many other processes from continuing to pour emissions into the atmosphere," said Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University. "If we are to have any hope of keeping global temperature [increases] down below 2 degrees C then we desperately need to develop ways to capture and store carbon dioxide." Carbon capture and storage involves the extraction of emissions from power plants and factories, condensing them and then pumping the resulting carbon dioxide into underground stores.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. When Congress passed a budget bill in February, you may have missed something significant: It includes new incentives to support carbon capture and storage, or CCS. If you've heard of CCS before, you've probably heard that it's expensive, risky, and unnecessary in light of the recent progress of wind and solar energy. Compared with renewable energy, CCS--a technology that captures carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel sources and injects them deep into the earth for permanent storage--has always been the ugly duckling of climate change mitigation. Even though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that we are unlikely to meet our climate targets without it, CCS has received little policy support and, consequently, seen minimal deployment.