BBC Briefing: Energy

Supplying energy for our everyday lives reliably and affordably has always been a key goal of government policy. But the UK’s commitment to do so while almost completely eliminating carbon emissions over the next three decades poses an unprecedented challenge for government, business and individuals. BBC Briefing explores how that challenge can be met.

There is a widespread agreement that there needs to be a vast reduction in carbon dioxide emissions if the extremes of climate change are to be averted. But the pathway to achieving low or zero emissions has yet to be defined – not least because so many of the technologies involved are not yet available commercially or have uncertain costs.

What is certain is that achieving net zero will require fundamental change in many aspects of our lives – how we heat or cool our homes, how we power our planes, trains and cars, and how we generate electricity by non-carbon means. 

How to encourage, incentivise, require and finance these changes – whether directly by individuals or via taxpayer funding – is a challenge for the government. There are too many variables for us yet to be clear what the overall costs to society will be, though they will be high. This needs to be offset, though, against the costs of not acting to combat climate change. It is important for the UK to work with other nations in this enterprise. 

One country cannot solve the problems on its own. But if the UK and other nations combine to embrace net zero, the prize is a mighty one; to maintain and safeguard the Earth and the natural world as we know it.

BBC Briefing: Energy

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