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Sarah: So our next speaker. Thank you. Our next speaker is Professor Paul Ekins from University College London.
Professor Paul Ekins: Well, thank you very much. And good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. And while I do indeed work at University College London, these are very much personal remarks. I'm an economist and I've been asked to share five minutes with you on the technology and economics of the low carbon net-zero transition. The first thing to say is that the technology is available. That's the good news. We don't need to invent a whole lot of new, clever stuff. The technology is there. And that is a very strong statement compared with the fact that we actually don't know what to do if we allow climate change global warming, which you heard much more about this morning, to get out of hand. Then we're in really uncharted territory. So the low-risk option is very much to take the mitigation. Chris Stark set out this morning where the emissions come from and it's pretty easily said that with electricity we have to move towards low carbon generation, renewables, perhaps nuclear. With home heating, we have to go towards energy efficiency. We have to move away from the gas boilers that in all our homes, or pretty well.#
In transport, we have to move away from petrol and diesel cars, vans, lorries, airplanes, to electricity and perhaps hydrogen fuel cells. Industry, industrial processes, electricity and hydrogen. Agriculture, land use, one of the most difficult and least researched areas; what we eat and how do we produce it? What else do we need to do with the land? We heard quite a bit about that this morning. We need to eat less meat. We need to grow our food in a way that stores carbon in the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. And we need to grow more trees. So we know broadly what to do. That's far from saying that it's easy because these are lots of people doing lots of things differently to what they used to do. And they require quite a lot of facilitation from government in terms of new infrastructure and in terms of encouragement and system change. For example, we need means of storing electricity if we're going to get it from the sun and the wind, because you all know the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow all the time.#
Similarly, if we're going to move away from gas boilers in our homes, some of our central heating systems will need to be changed in order to cope with some of the low carbon alternatives. So, then I want to move on to say, well okay, these are the sorts of things we need to do, and I'll answer such questions as you may have as best I can, after that. The question then is, what's it going to cost? A few of you have already asked questions about that in the other session, which I found very helpful. Of course, some of these low carbon technologies will cost more and we need to be aware of that, but some will cost less. For example, you can often save money by using energy more efficiently. Some ways of cutting carbon seem now to cost more, but over time the cost will come down and they may end up costing less. And a very good example of that are the renewable electricity generating technologies. If you'd been an investor or local authority in 2008 wanting to invest in solar photovoltaic panels, one megawatt would have cost you £3,500,000. If you were wanting to invest in the same one megawatt last year, it would have cost you £230,000. A falling cost of over 90%. And we understand the processes by which those kinds of cost reductions come about. And we've seen the same in offshore and onshore wind. We're now seeing the same in batteries, and we're seeing the same in hydrogen and fuel cells. So how much the transition is going to cost through to 2050 is by no means a simple question to answer.#
And then there's the issue that cutting these carbon emissions is going to create new jobs and new industries. Refurbishing our homes, new building technologies, investing in different electricity technologies in new kinds of vehicles, technologies that save resources. The list is very long. And some economists, of whom I am one, who believe that actually this could lead to a new industrial revolution, with lots of countries moving in the same direction at the same time, creating export markets and moving away from the fossil fuels. Most of which a country like ours is now importing. So when economists try to work out the overall effects of these rather large numbers of changes, they turned to models. These are very imperfect and complicated things, and they definitely are full of uncertainties. But overall they give four kinds of answers. The first answer is that going low carbon, going zero carbon, will not stop the economy growing. That is a really important point. There is no model that suggests it's going to stop it growing. The second is that the effects are small. Some models say the economic growth will increase. Someone will say it will decrease, but overall it's small. The third point is that if we want to get to net zero by 2050, the sooner we start, the cheaper it will be because we can get these innovation processes underway. And the fourth and last point is that policies that encourage innovation, that encourage sensible behaviour change, and that deploy low carbon technologies at scale, will ensure that we get there cheaper than we will otherwise, thank you very much.
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