Back to: Agenda
Previous: Professor Rebecca Willis, University of Lancaster: Why tackling climate change has proved difficult
Next: Panel one - Q&A - part 1
Tim Hughes: So up now is Chris Stark from the Committee on Climate Change. He is also one of our expert leads and he's gonna be talking a bit more about what you're going to cover as the Climate Assembly. It's over to you, Chris.
Chris Stark: Thanks Tim. Morning everyone, I'm Chris. You're going to see a bit for me over the course of actually this-this weekend, and future weekends as well. So how you feeling? Good good. So just a very quick recap of what you've heard. So you've heard about what climate change is, the scientific basis for it. You've heard from Ed about the impacts of climate change and you've heard from Becky about why it's so hard to address the problem. And let me tell you, those presentations could have easily been a day each. So we're trying to cram a lot in, we know that. So what I'm going to do in this section is to talk just a bit about the UK, to talk about the target that the UK has, which we call this net zero target and then give you a sense of in the UK what's driving the emissions that we'll be talking about over the next four weekends, and what you're gonna do. So that's-that's the that's the point really of my section here. I'm gonna try and keep this section as factual as I can. And I'm sure there will be questions, and if you have them, I'll do my best to answer them afterwards.#
First, a point on what we're talking about today, so the UK is net zero target. And let me just briefly explain what that means. So net zero has, is both a term in science, it's a thing that really means something, but it's also become a-it's become a term that you see used publicly as almost like a badge for something. So it's important that we define it. And basically, it means reducing in the UK the greenhouse gas emissions that we are producing here to as low a level as possible, and then for whatever emissions are left, having gone through that process, having something that balances them on the other side. So that might be what I mean by that is something that absorbs carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and that nets them off. So that might be through growing a tree, for example. It may be through some of the more technological approaches to taking that from the atmosphere, but that gets you to overall zero. So it's-it's, that's why it's net zero overall, we'll use that term a lot, but it's important to say here what it means. In the UK that target is about emissions that we actually produce here. Now sometimes that's called territorial emissions. That's the emissions that happened within the territory of the boundaries of the United Kingdom.#
But the other thing I wanted to say here is, although that's the basis of the UK target, there's a bigger story here going on which you will hear about, about what's sometimes called our carbon footprint. And we have a bigger carbon footprint than those emissions than just those emissions that we produce here in the UK. So think about the things that we import in particular. Think about something like steel, for example. So steel it is a thing that is produced through an industrial process, and a lot of the steel that we use is imported from another place. And that industrial process has emissions associated with it, and what we import therefore means we are responsible for something that happens outside the UK. Now, if you look at that-that question that sometimes called consumption emissions, because we're consuming that product, there is a bigger number associated with that and the emissions we produce here. So it's a bit 50% or so bigger than the emissions that we actually produce here. So we are responsible for something a bit more than just the emissions that are produced here in the UK. But the emissions just in the UK are still the biggest part of our impact on the climate. So it's the biggest, it's the biggest thing that we are responsible for. Those things that happened in the UK. I'm gonna talk you through very quickly what those are those production emissions overall. That's what we're looking at. That's what the target's about. But we should have it remind the the bigger part of this, too.#
Let's just talk then, about these greenhouse gas emissions and what we produce here in the UK. Um, overall, we've actually been cutting our greenhouse gas emissions for a long time, actually, for several decades since probably about the seventies. And that's a great story, because we are now, instead of being responsible for that very large part, just as Joe said of the problem in any one year, we're now actually going to cut a small part. So the UK is responsible for a relatively small amount of emissions each year. If you look historically, just as Joe said, we have a much bigger role to play. We're number five on the list of countries that have added to the problem of climate change overall. But in any one year now we're going to (indecipherable) a low amount. Let's just look there for what we are producing each year. Now you might have this on your table. I'm going to look at this. This is a pie chart of the latest stats that we have on emissions from the UK. Um, let's see if we can get this working. Right.#
The first part of the pie chart, we're gonna go through in order the emissions from biggest to smallest in each of the - in each of the sectors as you may call them of the UK. The biggest one, I don't know if this is surprising to you or not. The biggest one is surface transports. This is mainly about cars, vans, heavy goods vehicles, and the petrol and the diesel that they burn. And if we look at that, it's nearly 1/4 of the emissions produced here in the UK overall. That is now the biggest sectoral contributor to the problem of UK emissions overall.#
The next one is industry. That is industrial emissions, which is just over a 1/5 of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in the UK. And more than half of that is from manufacturing processes, which use a lot of fossil fuels typically. And another, 40% or so is from refining producing fuels. So in places like refineries, you'll find that. So that's overall 60% manufacturing 40% of refining gets you to that 21% of UK emissions of (indecipherable) from industry.#
Um, this is something you will talk about a lot over the course of the next four weekends together. And that's buildings. Now, what I mean by that is buildings, that's your home, but also where you might work. So retail premises, but also buildings in the public sector too, so that's buildings. We'll look at that overall. The direct emissions from buildings come from heating them. So it's the fossil fuels that we use to heat, as gas typically. Most of us are on the gas grid in the UK and we burn natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, to create heat. And those emissions overall, which are mainly carbon dioxide, make up 18% of the total emissions from the UK. You also in your homes on in your places of work use electricity. Now electricity also has emissions associated with it, which I'll come on to in a second. We count them somewhere else in this pie chart. That's from the place where they're produced. So there is an indirect emission from the electricity that we use for these lights, for example, which I'll come onto in just a second. But this is about buildings, so just under 1/5 of the emissions in from the UK in any one year come from the emissions from buildings overall.#
The next is that section I just talked about. This is electricity generation, and it's an interesting-an interesting sector because this used to be the biggest sector in the UK. This is used to use-burn a lot of coal, which is a particularly important contributor to the global problem of greenhouse gas emissions-cum-dioxide emissions. And the UK used to burn a lot of coal. Now it doesn't burn very much coal for the purposes of generating electricity overall. It used to be, but down about 70% actually from where those emissions stood in 1990. And the reason that's happened is because we switched from coal to alternatives, which have lower carbon emissions. That's also an issue that you're gonna hear a lot about over the next few years, how that electricity is supplied to you overall. But at the moment, electricity generation down now to 13% of the total in the UK in any one year. These are the most recent stats.#
Next is aviation, which is a topic that is very often associated with climate change in general, and it may be surprising to you, but aviation is 8% overall of the total emissions. By far the biggest part of that 8% is international trips by plane. Actually, it's well over 90% of the emissions that come from aviation are associated with long haul flights, only 4% are the domestic emissions overall. That's the carbon dioxide that comes from burning aviation fuel and those planes. We have really good evidence and data on that, they're getting smaller now.#
This is agriculture and land use. Now this is a very topical thing. This is basically the food that you eat has emissions associated with it. That is, in particular from the life stock and this particular type of livestock. Not all animals, but some animals in particular, cows and sheep create methane. They burp, and that methane is particularly potent as a gas that warms the atmosphere and we get that from our agricultural emissions. Agricultural emissions and land use. Now this is important because land use is what scientists call a carbon sink. So what does that mean? It means that land use is where you find a place where you can actually store emissions. So imagine growing a tree or imagine the soils that in certain areas people in soil, for example, can absorb carbon. And overall, we're just at the point where that is, that is a negative, but not very strong negative in the UK so we have a sort of slight carbon sink from our land use, plus agriculture (indecipherable). It means that we have 7% of the total emissions in the UK. That might be an area, when you're thinking over the next four weekends that we wanted to do something with. So you hear a lot about growing trees, for example. That's something that's very relevant to this discussion. There's also some emissions in there from the things that happened on farms, from what we do with agricultural soils, how we manage waste manure. These are all emissions too, but they're all in that figure there but that's 7% of the total overall. Nearly done. Next is waste. Emissions from waste are 4% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, any year, that's mainly from decomposition of biodegradable waste in places like landfill. So think of the food, for example, that you might throw out. That degrades and creates a greenhouse gas emission methane.#
This is F gas. So what are F gases? Well F gases are really, you know, really striking thing. These are emissions, what we call fluorinated gases, and there are small proportion of the total here, but these are really, really potent gases. In fact, some of them are 23,000 times more - have more potential to warm the atmosphere than a particle of carbon dioxide. So really, really potent things. You might ask what we therefore use them for. Well, they're very, very useful as refrigerants, as aerosols. I don't know if we have any asthmatics in the room, but you can get it if gas is occasionally and the things that you squirt. They have a particularly useful role as a gas that can insulate. So they're used quite extensively, for example, in electricity and the electricity sector. in the insulation around pipes. They're really damaging in the sense that they're really warming to the planet. But of course, the very useful things as well. So although they're all very small amounts, they have a very big impact if they're released into the atmosphere. So it's 3% of the total in the UK comes from F gases. And the last section is another travel issue, is shipping. Shipping emissions, just 3% now of the total UK greenhouse gases. Most of that is from just over half of the runners from international journeys, and it's the fuel that's burned in ships, ships and boats.#
So that's the pie chart. Now, the Net zero target for the UK is really all about this. It's about what you do to reduce the emissions from these sectors as much as you possibly can, and then netting the remainder off with something on the other side to absorb whatever's left at the end of that. That's what you're going to discuss. And very sure order, this is the topics that we will be covering in the Assembly over this weekend and the following three weekends. We've already been talking about the first of these, of course, which is our information of climate change and the UK's net zero target. Hopefully, these will know makes sense to you. What we're going to do, in no particular order, is look at energy supply. So what can we do about emissions associated with the supply of energy. We're going to look at how we travel, what changes can be made there, the energy that we use in the home. Just as I mentioned: food, farming, use of lands, what we buy, what we consume. And then that last point about how you actually remove gases from the atmosphere and the various approaches to that overall. So that's what's coming up. You'll hear a lot more from me after lunch, but that's enough for me for now.
Tim Hughes: Thank you very much to Chris. So same again, a couple of minutes.
Transcripts provided by Just Transcription. These transcripts have been automatically created and then reviewed by two editors. If you find an error in the transcription where it does not match the video, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.