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UK plans for net zero emissions by 2050

November 1, 2021
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: New policies create opportunities for Wisconsin companies to contribute their knowledge, services and technologies.

The UK released its comprehensive climate change plan in October, Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, a 367-page document laying out its program to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The strategy was discussed at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November. Many of the policies provide opportunities for Wisconsin companies to share their knowledge, services and technologies in a multitude of sectors, including automotive, aerospace, HVAC and construction.

Under the terms of the plan, the UK will end the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and by 2035, all cars must be capable of being operated with zero emissions. The government will allocate an additional £620 million ($683.5 million USD) for zero emission vehicle grants and to expand the electric charging infrastructure.

By 2035, the UK will be powered entirely by clean electricity. This energy transition will require building at least one large nuclear plant by 2024, and a £120 million ($132 million USD) fund will be established to develop future nuclear technology. Renewables will be a key factor, with the aim of installing 40 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 and the creation of more onshore wind and solar energy sources.

There are also ambitious plans for home insulation improvements, with 19 million homes currently falling below energy efficiency performance standards. The government is offering cash incentives to upgrade home heating systems from gas boilers to heat pumps. The £5,000 ($5,500 USD)  grants are expected to help 90,000 households install home heat pumps and other low-carbon heating systems over the next three years.

One of the more ambitious policies is a plan for the UK to become a world leader in zero-emission flights, using sustainable aviation fuel, so people “can fly and connect without guilt,” the report said.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the UK Space Agency has provided new funding for a joint British and French project called MicroCarb that will monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide—the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Officials of the two countries signed an implementation agreement for the MicroCarb project at COP26.

The UK will provide £3.9 million ($4.3 million USD) for the mission, due to launch in early 2023. It will be the first European satellite dedicated to measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide from all around the world. “The UK is leading the way in using satellites in space to monitor, understand and tackle climate change,” Science Minister George Freeman said.

Along with the Net Zero Strategy, the UK recently launched its National Space Strategy, which sets out its ambition to tackle global challenges through international collaboration—another area that could include the participation of Wisconsin companies.


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