UK could be carbon neutral by 2050 with CO2 removal technology

12th September 2018


Web co2 shutterstock 96727612

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Technology ,
  • Wildlife & Habitats ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Sustainability

Author

Richard Boothman

The UK could achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by immediately deploying greenhouse gas removal technologies, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society have said.

In a report published today, the academies assess the potential impact of traditional carbon removal methods like forestation, as well as more speculative technologies like direct air capture.

They warn that the UK must continue to rapidly cut emissions, but that the country will still need to remove at least 130 megatonnes of CO2 every year if it is to be carbon neutral in 2050.

Ready to use methods like habitat restoration could provide a quarter of what is needed to achieve this, according to the report, while more advanced approaches like carbon capture and storage could contribute the rest.

“We have to use these methods to achieve international climate goals and steward the planet for future generations,” said professor Gideon Henderson, chair of the report’s working group.

“If the UK acts now on greenhouse gas removal, we can reach national emissions targets and show how a major industrialised economy can play a leading role in meeting the Paris Agreement.

The more traditional methods analysed included forestation, habitat restoration, soil carbon sequestration and building with wood or carbonated waste, with each assessed for readiness, scalability and environmental and social impacts.

Biochar, enhanced terrestrial weathering in agricultural soils, direct air captures and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, were some of the more speculative technologies.

In order to achieve the 2050 target, the researchers concluded that the UK would need to increase forestation to 5% of land, restore wetlands and salt marshes, and store more carbon in farmland.

Policy should also encourage changes in building practice to use wood and cement manufactured from carbon waste, while more research must be carried out into longer-term technologies like enhanced weathering.

“However, delivery of these technologies at the necessary scale will present many challenges,” said member of the report’s working group, professor Nilay Shah, said. “Overcoming these will require a concerted effort from engineers, scientists and governments worldwide.”

Image credit: iStock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Renewables account for almost half of Britain’s power generation

Solar power generation hit a new high in the last quarter as renewables accounted for almost half of Britain’s energy production, according to a report from Montel Analytics.

18th July 2024

Read more

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Sarah Spencer on the clear case for stronger partnerships between farmers and renewable energy developers

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Although many organisations focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is vital to factor in scope 3 emissions and use their footprint to drive business change

31st May 2024

Read more

Joe Nisbet explores the challenges and opportunities of delivering marine net gain through offshore renewables

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA submits response to the Future Homes Standard consultation

31st May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close