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The UK’s Net Zero Goals Explained

Help our planet. Help your pocket.

The UK government is aiming to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, and has mapped out £90 billion in investment to help them get there. This strategy is based on Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan which covers low carbon transport, renewable and clean energy and innovative technologies. 

What does ‘net zero’ mean? 

Net zero focuses on reaching a balance between the amount of greenhouse gasses that are produced and removed from the atmosphere.

There are two ways to achieve this, that both work in tandem:  one route removes greenhouse gasses, and the other decreases existing emissions. 

Whilst the UK government would like to achieve a gross zero target, this is not entirely realistic which is why they’re focusing on offsetting existing emissions, hence the net zero target. 

Once the UK has cancelled out the amount of carbon emissions produced, we will become a net-zero emitter. 

Why did net zero come about?

From scorching heat waves causing devastating bush fires, to extreme rainfall leading to horrendous floods, it’s hard to deny the impact of climate change. Scientists have proven that emissions of greenhouse gases is causing severe climate change, and world leaders must do something about it. 

As a result, in June 2019 the UK was the first  major economy to, “pass legislation that commits the country to net zero emissions by 2050. In other words, the target is to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 100%, relative to 1990 levels, by the middle of this century” (Energy Savings Trust).

Which sectors will be most affected by net zero?

Unsurpisingly, transportation, residential (heating homes), energy supply and business (commercial use of electricity) will be the most affected by the UK’s net zero goals. These industries make up for 78% of current emissions (The Institute for Government).

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions 

According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) increased by 6.3% in 2021 to 341.5 million tonnes (mt). 

Total greenhouse gas emissions increased by 4.7% to 424.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

In 2020 the UK experienced several lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant there were significantly less cars on the road in comparison to 2021. CO2 emissions from transport rose 10.0% in 2021, making up almost half of the overall increase from 2020. 

It’s thought that 40% of UK emissions come from households.

How can households contribute towards the UK’s net zero goals? 

In the UK the average household emits 8.1 tonnes of CO2 every year -  2.7 tonnes of which comes from heating their home (CITU).

According to the Committee on Climate Change (The CCC) 1 in 4 homes use oil heating and 1 in 3 homes use electric heating. However, if households switch over to a heat pump, they could save, “3.2 tonnes of CO2 per year and 0.8 tonnes of CO2 per year respectively.

Whether you rent or own your own home or own a commercial building, installing an air source heat pump is a really effective way to make your home more energy efficient and contribute toward the UK’s net zero target. 

The case for air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps use renewable energy (the air) to heat a building. They don’t produce any emissions and can operate in low ambient temperatures as low as -20°C. 

There areseveral benefits of getting an air source heat pump - one of the biggest being the energy efficiency. They 400% more energy efficient in comparison to gas boilers. For every kW of electricity you put in; you get 4kW of energy out.

Air source heat pumps takes air from the outdoors and the energy from the air is used to heat a refrigerant which turns into a vapour. 

This vapour is squeezed and completed, increasing the temperature - this heat travels through your home via existing pipework, heating up radiators and under floor heating.

Find out everything you need to know about air source heat pumps.

There are several Government incentives to help homeowners and landlords offset the cost of installing an air source heat pumps - find out how to maximise these government grants here.

If the UK wants to reach their net zero emissions target, extreme action must be taken. From switching off lights to installing renewable energy heating solutions such as air source heat pumps, there are certain things we can do to make energy improvements to our homes to reduce carbon emissions.

If you have any questions surrounding air source heat pumps, browse our resource centre or get in touch with an engineer today. 

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