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Net Zero Announcement: UK Sets Out Plans to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The UK government’s new plan aims to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions to reach its 2050 net zero goal.

According to the government, the new net zero strategy will end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050. But, what is net zero? Net zero refers to achieving an overall balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere to reduce global warming.

Achieving net zero doesn’t mean we have to eliminate carbon emissions altogether. It means we need to reduce our emissions as much as possible because the amount currently emitted is more than the amount taken out from the atmosphere. 

If the UK and the rest of the world don’t take action on climate change, the planet will be hotter, sea levels will rise, and extreme weather will increasingly occur and threaten lives.

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Announcements in the Net Zero Strategy

The steps on the Prime Minister’s net zero strategy include:

• Heat Pump Ready Programme

A £60 million Heat Pump Ready programme will be created to develop heat pump technologies. Heat pumps use electricity to absorb energy from the air or ground outside and convert it into heat to provide heating and hot water for homes. The government wants 600,000 heat pump installations to be carried out each year by 2028.

• Boiler Upgrade Scheme

There will be a new £450 million 3-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme that gives households in England and Wales grants of up to £5,000 to replace their gas boilers with low-carbon heating systems, such as electric air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Heat pumps generate around three to four times the energy they use, making them much more efficient than gas boilers.  

• Acceleration of Carbon Capture Technologies

A £140 million investment will see the government accelerate the development of carbon capture technologies to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage is the process of trapping carbon dioxide before it’s released into the atmosphere and storing it in an underground location. 

• Money for Electric Vehicles

The government aims to bring an end to sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 and will invest £620 million in grants for electric vehicles and charging points, with a focus on putting more charging points on residential streets. An extra £350 million will help the automotive supply chain move to electric, and a zero-emission vehicle mandate will be introduced to encourage car manufacturers to increase sales of zero-emission vehicles. 

• A Boost to Nature for Climate Fund

A £124 million boost to the Nature for Climate Fund will help the government meet a commitment to restore around 280,000 hectares of peat in England by 2050 and treble woodland creation in England to create at least 30,000 hectares of woodland per year across the UK by 2024.

• Financing New Nuclear Projects

The government wants to deliver a fully decarbonised power system by 2035 and will put £120 million towards a Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to develop nuclear projects, with several potential sites, including the Wylfa site in Anglesey.  

• Development of the Green Technologies of the Future

An extra £500 million will go towards innovation projects to develop the “green technologies of the future” and support the “most pioneering ideas and technologies to decarbonise our homes, industries, land and power.” 

• Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

The government will provide £180 million in funding to support the development of SAF plants in the UK. Sustainable fuel for aeroplanes is made from sustainable materials, such as everyday household waste, flue gases from industry, carbon captured from the atmosphere and excess electricity, and produces over 70% fewer carbon emissions than traditional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis.

What Does Net Zero Mean for Homeowners?

A review published by the Treasury alongside the Net Zero Strategy says it is not possible to forecast how individual household finances will be hit throughout a transition that is expected to take 30 years to complete. However, the review stated that “new, lower-carbon industries and jobs will emerge.”

We already know that the government plans to ban gas boilers in new-build homes from 2025 and wants all heating appliances in homes to be low carbon from 2035. 

Experts believe that retrofits of current homes will play a pivotal role in meeting the UK’s net zero targets and the best strategy for reducing household emissions is to increase thermal efficiency through home improvements, such as improving insulation, adding triple glazed windows and installing electric heat pumps. 

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