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‘Fundamental lifestyle changes’ to meet emissions target

03 December 2008

Responding to the publication of the Government climate change committee report, ‘Building a Low Carbon Economy – Britain’s Contribution to Tackling Climate Change,’ Andrew Furlong, Director of Policy at IChemE (the Institution of Chemical Engineers), warns that major changes are inevitable: “It’s a noble aspiration but one that will require a fundamental shift in lifestyles and behaviour.
“Everything will change – from power generation to transport, building design to consumption patterns.

‘Fundamental lifestyle changes’ to meet emissions target
‘Fundamental lifestyle changes’ to meet emissions target

Government, business and the public will need to demonstrate a commitment to science and engineering on a scale not seen since the Second World War, before any real progress can be made.

“The design and maintenance of new technology whether that is energy efficiency, energy storage, carbon capture, nuclear or renewables based, will all require more scientists and more engineers,” added Furlong.
The report says that once a global deal is reached, a 31% cut on 2005 emission levels will be needed by 2020, with a 21% target recommended until then. It also proposes that firm carbon budgets are put in place for the next three five-year periods.

It also says that it will be possible to achieve the cuts without harming the British economy, with the 80% cut likely to cost between 1 and 2% of the UK’s GDP in 2050.

The report cites Energy efficiency improvement in buildings and industry; Decarbonisation of the power sector; Transport sector decarbonisation; Heat sector decarbonisation; and Decarbonisation of industry as areas in which emission reductions can be implemented.

Miles Seaman, spokesperson for IChemE’s sustainability subject group welcomed the report but said it’s time to start ‘doing’, rather than just talking: “We need strong signals from Government so we can get on with producing the solutions and the capacity to deliver them.

“For too long, we’ve been speaking about what we’ll do ‘tomorrow’ but we need to take action now. Having well defined targets for emission reductions is a good start but is this sufficient to catch up with other countries? These new targets bring us closer but we must be much bolder if we are going to really take the lead,” said Seaman.

The report was published as United Nations talks take place in Poznan, Poland with countries attempting to set terms on a new deal tackling all aspects of climate change.

The talks follow those that took place in Bali in 2007 and are designed to conclude in 2009 with an agreement to supersede the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

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