Climate change: achieving net zero emissions

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  • Date:2024/06/11

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that if the world is to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of this century,

no new fossil fuel boilers should be sold from 2025 onwards.

This is one of the 400 steps proposed by the agency in a special report to achieve net zero emissions.


By 2035, the world will cease selling new gasoline and diesel vehicles.

The International Energy Agency stated that from now on, it will no longer be suitable for new coal, oil, or natural gas exploration or supply.

What can I use instead of a gas boiler? What is the cost?

The UK President of the United Nations Climate Summit calls for a ban on the use of coal

Reducing methane gas emissions is crucial for addressing the climate crisis.


The report is welcomed and considered an important contribution to the 26th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, where countries will attempt to reach consensus on the measures needed to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

In this context, solving the problem of how the world produces and consumes energy is the most crucial effort.

The International Energy Agency states that approximately 75% of greenhouse gas emissions due to global temperature rise come from the energy industry.


How will we heat the house?

A model designed to convert combustion of hydrogen gas may be an option - and the price may be about 100 pounds more expensive than a standard gas boiler of 2000 pounds.

This will contribute to the climate, as the hydrogen generated by renewable energy does not produce any emissions when burned.

But climate advisors say that due to limited hydrogen supply, it may only provide heating for about 11% of households.


Therefore, most people hope to use heat pumps for heating, which extract heat from air, ground, or water, similar to a reverse running refrigerator priced between £ 6000 and £ 18000.

Although the government provides subsidies, lawmakers say that the government needs to provide more assistance to homeowners. In addition, heat pumps require a high level of insulation, which is not always achievable.


There are other technologies under consideration. Geothermal energy may provide heating for places like Cornwall. Nuclear energy may also be feasible.

But transforming natural gas heating into natural gas heating is a daunting task, with high costs and difficulty.


How do we heat in zero carbon UK?

When it comes to winter heating, gas centralized heating is the best choice. For over half a century, it has always made us feel warm.

However, when your beloved boiler breaks down, be prepared to replace it - as gas heating cannot play a role in zero carbon emissions in the UK.

At some point in the future, you will need to install a clean heating system. But be aware - it's not always cheap or convenient.


More importantly, we must also thoroughly improve the insulation performance, as some new equipment cannot provide heating for cold and ventilated houses in the UK.

The home heating market worth £ 28 billion mainly has two competitors - hydrogen and heat pumps.


Hydrogen - Is this the future of heating?

Hydrogen is the most anticipated candidate fuel for replacing gas boilers. Hydrogen can be extracted from water through electrolysis, a process powered by clean wind energy.

Hydrogen lobbyists claim that hydrogen can be transported through existing pipelines - at least to households. And hydrogen combustion does not produce carbon emissions.

Large companies that support hydrogen have stated that hydrogen can provide heating for all households in the UK.


Heat pump - is it the future of heating?

At present, hundreds of thousands of households in the UK use heat pumps, but the public knows very little about this. However, the Climate Committee believes that in the coming decades, heat pumps will provide heating for most households.

A heat pump is an electrical device that operates in the opposite principle to an air conditioning device.


A heat pump does not absorb heat from indoors and then discharge it outdoors, but rather absorbs waste heat from the ground, air, or water sources and concentrates it to provide heating for the house.

But there are also some drawbacks, depending on the type of house you live in. Air source heat pumps are difficult to keep you warm on very cold nights, while ground source heat pumps require drilling large holes in your garden so that pipes can absorb heat from the Earth.

They are also very expensive, priced at £ 10000 or higher - and may require the installation of larger radiators.


Experts suggest installing a low-power heat pump next to a hydrogen boiler to increase temperature and minimize interference during a cold wave.

However, Professor Jin stated that strong government efforts and a large number of incentive measures are still needed to prevent households from using tested and trustworthy gas boilers.

So far, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has only committed £ 1 billion in funding for next year under the Green Home subsidy alone, while spending £ 100 billion on the HS2 railway project may actually increase emissions.


Key steps to achieve net zero emissions by 2050

By 2050, under the net zero emission scenario, the use of fossil fuels will significantly decrease, and there will be no need to develop new oil and gas fields except for those that have been approved for development. No need to build or expand coal mines.


By 2035, the emissions from power generation in developed economies will decrease to net zero, and by 2040, global emissions from power generation will decrease to net zero. Renewable energy is driving this transformation, and the proportion of electricity generation will increase from 29% in 2020 to nearly 90% by 2050.


By 2030, the number of public charging stations for electric vehicles will increase from approximately 1 million to 40 million, requiring an annual investment of $90 billion by the end of 2030.

By 2035, almost all cars sold globally will be electric vehicles, and by 2050, almost all heavy-duty trucks sold globally will be fuel cells or electric vehicles.

By the 2030, the per capita oil and gas income of countries that rely on fossil fuel production will decrease from $1800 to $450, a decrease of approximately 75%.


This will also have a direct impact on consumers worldwide.

Currently, home heating using natural gas or oil is the main source of carbon emissions in many countries, accounting for about 20% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The net zero emission path of the International Energy Agency indicates that in just four years, new fossil fuel boilers should not be sold unless they are compatible with hydrogen.

For the construction industry, this is not an easy transition.


Maria Pastukhova from environmental think tank E3G said, "This will be very difficult because it means a huge shift in consumer behavior."

"The construction industry may be one of the most challenging industries, as all existing old infrastructure, except for energy-efficient buildings emphasized by the International Energy Agency, must be renovated. This is a special challenge for governments."

The International Energy Agency stated that in addition to green energy systems, it is also necessary to expand energy supply to provide electricity to 785 million people worldwide who are currently unable to use electricity.


By 2035, new cars equipped with gasoline or diesel engines will no longer be sold. By 2040, all electricity globally will achieve zero emissions.

Although the scale of this change is unprecedented, the International Energy Agency believes that by 2030, it will create approximately 14 million jobs, while energy production investment will soar to $5 trillion, driving global GDP growth.

The Director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, said, "The scale and speed of the efforts required for this crucial and challenging goal - our best opportunity to address climate change and limit global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius - may make it the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced."

"The path of the International Energy Agency towards this bright future will bring historic growth in clean energy investment, create millions of new jobs, and promote global economic growth. Pushing the world onto this path requires strong and credible policy actions from governments around the world, based on closer international cooperation."

A concern for environmentalists is that the report relies on unconfirmed technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

People are also concerned about bioenergy, which involves using trees, crops, and plants to produce liquid fuels or generate electricity.

The International Energy Agency's net zero emission path predicts a significant increase of approximately 60% in this energy source, with energy crops and forestry plantations expected to occupy 25% more land than currently used for bioenergy production

Hannah Mowat of Fern, a non-governmental organization based in Brussels, said, "Burning forests for energy is the latest in a series of flawed climate solutions." The organization is committed to protecting forests and people.

"Unfortunately, the International Energy Agency has accepted this proposal and proposed a completely unrealistic level of bioenergy development, which will destroy forests around the world and exacerbate climate change. We should not obtain energy through burning trees, but focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels, maximizing energy efficiency, and increasing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, heat pumps, and geothermal."





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