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Here’s how to stop fossil fuel emissions
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Here’s how to stop fossil fuel emissions

Towers releasing steam


Attaining your goals net zeroIt is a huge challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2020. It’ll mainly be achieved by cutting fossil fuelUse: This includes oil, natural gas, and coal. Doing this will require rapid, deep transformation across the UK’s energy system.

There have been smaller energy transformations in the UK before. For example, during 1966 to 1977The use of town gas, which is made from burning coal, to move millions of buildings was possible. North SeaNatural gas is used in the construction of a national gas grid. But modern energy is much more complex, and the UK has never transformed a large, critical system like this.

There are two main methods to reduce fossil fuel emissions: elimination and decarbonisation.

Elimination is when low-carbon energy sources like renewables, hydrogen gas, and nuclear power replace fossil fuels. This requires “fuel switching” – changing or upgrading systems across the country to run on these new fuels, such as moving from petrol to electric cars. Vehicles and building heating are the two most important domains in which fuel switching is necessary.

On the contrary, decarbonisationCapturing emissions as they are generated is necessary. This technology is called carbon captureThe chemical compression of carbon dioxide into a liquid is used for storage or use. using itTo make synthetic fuels, chemicals, and building materials.

Towers releasing steam
Instead of being released into the atmosphere, emissions can be captured and stored.
Gerry Machen/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Other “negative emissions technologies” that take greenhouse gases out of the air are being developed, but so far none are ready for mass deployment.


The UK has plans to reach net zero emission by 2020. Among the contributors are: Committee on Climate ChangeThe Department for Business, Energy and Industrial StrategyThe National Grid.

The country governments, including Scotland, Wales Northern Ireland have also made plans – but how achievable these will be in practice remains to be seen.

Two of the many challenges these plans present are: mass fuel switching and complex technologies related to low carbon fuels.

Mass fuel switchingProblems could arise if equipment is too expensive, unreliable or difficult to find. Also, the actual meeting of population energy demandIt is much easier to use low-carbon energy than it seems, and could lead if not managed carefully.

These problems may not be as severe as they seem, but they will require quick responses from those responsible for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. social unrest.

The majority of energy transition plans depend on the addition of new technologies to help generate more greener energy. These include carbon capture, storage, and advanced nuclear techThese include small modular reactors. green hydrogen produced using low-carbon electricity. The speed at which these inventions can be developed and then adopted in society will determine how fast they are implemented. increaseIf we want climate goals to be met, then this is what we need to do.

An electric car charging
Moving from petrol to electric vehicles is part of the transition to low-carbon energy.
Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr, CC BY-SA

My own researchTo make energy transitions successful, it is important to have strong leadership. political leadership.

Leaders shouldn’t just set ambitious energy efficiency goals. They must also support energy efficiency programs like retrofitting housesEncourage investmentIn energy technology research and support local governments to make the transition simpler for the public: for instance, by installing more electric vehicles charging points.


Making a successful transition to low-carbon energy wouldn’t just help the UK meet its climate obligations. Other benefits could include a better local environment air quality, less energy povertyBetter national energy securityYou can find out more reliable transport.

Social movements could play an important role in this transition. This might look like support vulnerable peopleThe fuel switching process can be used to benefit the elderly, chronically sick, and refugees. It could also include the development of new businesses that improve efficiency. decarbonised supply chain.

Internationally, the UK might be more economically competitive in a world without carbon, which is a sign of how industrialized countries can become. cut emissionsWhile maintaining economic power, social stability is possible wellbeingFor their citizens.


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