Global Net Zero by 2050: what is it and what contribution will EQTEC make?
In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass legislation committing to Net Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, relative to 1990 levels.
Many other countries have since committed to their own goals. Achieving challenging Net Zero outcomes in such a short timeframe will require coordinated and consistent support between policy makers, investors and innovative low carbon technologies, so that those innovations can be implemented at scale.
While there are many encouraging signs in each of these three areas, let’s look at current Net Zero targets around the world, at how EQTEC’s Advanced Gasification Technology can help reach them and further ahead at hopes for the United Nations COP26 event.
The European Union's Net Zero targets
The EU has committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and cutting GHG emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 2030 – an increase from its previous target of a 40% reduction.
How does the EU intend to achieve these targets?
On 14 July 2021, the European Commission adopted a package of eight legislative proposals that set more stringent goals on existing laws and five new laws, incorporating measures to reach these headline targets, called ‘Fit for 55’. Existing EU legislation is being revised including: the EU emissions trading system, to lower emissions caps and increase the annual rate of emissions reduction; plus efforts to set stronger emissions reduction targets for member states, improve renewable, taxation and efficiency targets in the energy sector, protection for land, agriculture and forestry use whilst achieving carbon-neutrality. New laws for maritime and air travel fuel, to name only a few, will be established.
In complement to Fit for 55, on 21 April 2021, the European Commission approved in principle its new Sustainable Finance Taxonomy to enable the EU Green Deal. Currently being examined by legislators, it is intended to be a common EU-wide classification system for sustainable economic activities aimed at directing investments towards sustainable projects. We welcome the intent behind the initiative, which we hope ensures that investors can assess and plan profits from new lower carbon technologies.
As one example for improvement, when it comes to the waste-to-energy infrastructure and wider sector, investors are still making decisions based on their risk and reward, with focus only at the stage they commit and over a too narrow return period. We believe that investors and project delivery companies should seek to assess and spread risk over the full lifecycle of projects that support a circular economy over their lifetime – these projects should aim to increase both economic and environmental value in their local area.
The United States’ Net Zero targets
Under President Biden, the US has re-joined the Paris Agreement, adopted at the UN COP 21 and committed to reaching net zero GHG emissions no later than 2050. In April this year, following a government-wide review organised by the National Climate Task Force, the US formally committed to a new target of a 50 – 52% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 based on 2005 levels.
How does the US intend to achieve these targets?
The administration has not set out any detailed policy commitments or incentives for how it intends to reach these targets. While we expect them to do so, perhaps at the upcoming COP 26 event, there is no clear timeline set out.
The United Kingdom‘s Net Zero targets
The UK’s original ambition was to establish Net Zero GHG by 2050 to help keep the rise in global temperatures close to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels.
In response to the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget in April 2021, the government announced a new target to reduce territorial emissions by 78% relative to 1990 levels, and to have UK electricity production emit zero carbon, both by 2035. Meeting these targets would see the UK more than three-quarters of the way to Net Zero in just 14 years from now – the most ambitious targets yet set by any country.
How does the UK government aim to achieve these targets?
In supporting businesses, investors, stakeholders, and the wider public to meet these targets, the government’s main focus since November 2020 has been its ‘Ten point plan for a green industrial revolution’, which in part aims accelerate Net Zero goals, with a policy underlying each ‘point’, some of which are underway. The focus areas include: supporting the move to zero emission vehicles; promoting green public transport; establishing ‘jet zero’ aviation; creating better support for ‘greener’ buildings; investing in carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS); protecting the natural environment; quadrupling offshore wind capacity by 2035; investing in nuclear power; driving growth of low carbon production capacity by 2030; and encouraging green finance and innovation.
The UK’s Net Zero Strategy
Much debate has occurred about the so-called cost of Net Zero, with the UK Treasury and some high-level politicians questioning whether the country can afford the measures needed. The government set out the full UK Net Zero Strategy and associated spending in October 2021, with investment across a number of areas. This is relevant because, as many point out, the cost of ‘doing nothing’ is projected to be far, far higher.
No more clearly was this demonstrated than in the middle of September 2021, when international gas demand, and therefore prices, increased and the UK Government organised emergency talks between Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Ofgem (the energy regulator), energy generators, suppliers and the wider industry to troubleshoot a combination of global gas prices, increased demand for electricity and ensuring the stability and security of vital energy and food supplies. There are many structural market design issues that both the UK and other countries must resolve during the energy transition, including: the approach to nuclear; the projected increases that the country needs in power generation; balancing overall energy capacity with demand; gas prices, storage and demand; increasing energy efficiency in buildings; and ensuring a fully-functioning retail supply market that gives consumers confidence and transparency in their provider.
Where EQTEC’s Advanced Gasification Technology can help to achieve global Net Zero
- Generating energy, more efficiently, while reducing GHG emissions
- Supporting the circular economy
- Provide environmental protection to areas at risk of forest fires
COP26 and the road to Net Zero
When it comes to shaping the global climate change agenda, attention is fully focused on what more governments will – or will not – commit to at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.
COP26 is taking place against the backdrop of the sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Published in August 2021 and titled Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, the global scientific community was unequivocal that human influence has warmed the planet, the recent changes are unprecedented and limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching ‘at least net zero CO2 emissions”, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions.
With all this in mind, we will be watching the discussions and agenda at COP26 on Tuesday 2nd November (Technology and Innovation Day) and Thursday 4th November (Energy Day) with great interest.
EQTEC’s hope for COP26 is that the EU, UK and USA in particular embrace more ambitious, more stringent targets that focus on ultimate outcomes for the environment, such as carbon efficiency and gross emissions, especially of the most hazardous pollutants. It will be up to individual governments to set even more stringent policies and action plans to meet these targets.
By Lisa Hancox, Head of Marketing & Communications, EQTEC plc