Top British Universities produce report on how we achieve 'Absolute Zero' - no meat, travel, flights

UK FIRES produced a report detailing how the UK has to get to 'Absolute Zero.'

Who are UK FIRES?

About Us

UK FIRES is a 5-year research programme funded by £5m of UKRI support and the subscriptions of an active and growing industrial consortium. With academics from six universities spanning from materials engineering through data science to economics, corporate strategy and policy and an industry consortium spanning from mining through construction and manufacturing to final goods.

Zero Emissions

UK FIRES stands for placing Resource Efficiency at the heart of the UK’s Future Industrial Strategy. When we proposed UK FIRES, it was to focus on Resource Efficiency as the key means to reduce industrial emissions. However, in 2019, both houses of Parliament unanimously approved a change to the UK’s climate change act to target zero emissions in 2050. This has been reinforced by recent Government targets for 2030 and 2035. So, although we haven’t changed our name to UK FIZES, our focus is now on placing Zero Emissions at the heart of the UK’s Future Industrial Strategy. UK FIRES takes a pragmatic approach: we focus only on technologies that are available to us today and exclude those that have yet to be proven at meaningful scale, since they simply may not be ready in time. In 2050 we aim to meet the energy demand of UK society by non-emitting electricity generation.

Absolute Zero

In December 2019, UK FIRES released the “Absolute Zero” report, a ground-breaking description of the operation of the UK with zero emissions by 2050, without relying on as as-yet un-scaled energy sector or negative emissions technologies. This pragmatic but striking view of the journey to zero emissions has attracted widespread interest including a full debate in the House of Lords in February 2020. Following the report, at the request of the UK Catapults, the UK FIRES team have been working through industry-focused workshops to develop five sectoral innovation reports to reveal the wealth of business growth opportunity revealed by the Absolute Zero analysis. These will be released during 2021.

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Key points

All airports must close between 2020 and 2029 excluding Heathrow, Glasgow and Belfast airports, which can only stay open on the condition that transfers to and from the airport are done via rail.

All remaining airports must then close between 2030 and 2049 as to meet the legal commitment of zero emissions by 2050 every citizen of the United Kingdom must “stop using aeroplanes” for a significant period of time.

To obey the law of the Climate Change Act the public will be required to stop doing anything that causes emissions regardless of its energy source. According to the report this will require the public to never eat beef or lamb ever again.

To do this national consumption of beef and lamb will drop by 50% between 2020 and 2029. Then between 2030 and 2049 beef and lamb will be “phased out”.

The report also confirms that construction of new building must cease by 2050 –

The underlying point is that any asset which uses carbon will have essentially zero value in 2050. This in turn may encourage greater use in the run up to 2050 – for example, putting up new buildings at a much faster rate for the next 30 years, knowing that construction must then halt.

The authors of the report state the key messages are as follows – In addition to reducing our energy demand, delivering zero emissions with today’s technologies requires the phasing out of flying, shipping, lamb and beef, blast-furnace steel and cement.

They also state this on jobs and location - There are two key implications for how we live our lives: first, buildings will become much more expensive because the restrictions on building which generate substantial scarcities; second, transport will become much more expensive because the limits on air travel will generate excess demand for other forms of transport.

Those who are starting secondary school now, in 2019, will be 43 in 2050. Thinking about what education is appropriate for a very different set of industries is a key question. Should we still be training airplane pilots? Or aeronautical engineers?

And they state this on implementation of the requirements – The changes in behaviour to achieve Absolute Zero are clearly substantial. In principle, these changes could be induced through changing prices and thus providing clear incentives for behaviour to change. The alternative is that the government prohibits certain types of behaviour and regulates on production processes.

You may be wondering how on earth they are going to get the support of the public in shutting the airports and stopping the consumption of beef and lamb?

Well, we could argue they are already well on their way to ensuring the closure of many airports thanks to the draconian laws that the British people have been living under since March 2020 in the name of protecting the NHS and saving lives.

Is it just a coincidence that four months after the release of the report, the UK Government introduced the lockdown.

They will get the support just as they got the support for implementing ridiculous, draconian laws under the guise of stopping the spread of Covid-19. Laws which have decimated small business, taken away our freedoms, and created what will be the greatest health crisis to have ever been due to turning the NHS into the National Covid Service and then the National Vaccination Service.