Report: U.K. Can Go Carbon Free in 20 Years

Wales, UK – Say goodbye to gas-powered cars, most air travel and even cheap – or readily available – meat.

Zerocarbonbritain, a radical new report released Monday, says these steps and others are needed to help Britain eradicate its carbon emissions during the next 20 years.

“Zerocarbonbritain is scientifically necessary, socially possible and technically achievable - we must now make it politically thinkable,” said Paul Allen, co-author of the report and development director of the Center of Alternative Technology, which produced it.

Years of easily assessable fossil fuels have resulted in Britain becoming “energy obese,” where far more energy is used than what is actually needed for well-being, the report said.

Its strategy calls for cutting Britain’s energy needs in half during the next 20 years. The country could become a self-sustaining “Island Britain” in terms of energy use.

But first, it would have to “power down,” an extreme process that involves trading gas-powered cars almost entirely for electric cars that would tap into and from a national grid.

Rail and bus service would improve while domestic air travel could get restricted to emergency use only. International flights would have to pay their full carbon costs through a carbon quota system.

A policy of tradable energy quotas, or a national cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gases, should cover all sectors of society, the report suggests.

When the quotas are used, individuals and businesses must adapt without the fossil fuels – such as gasoline for their cars – or buy shares from elsewhere at market price. Switching to energy efficient appliances or insulating homes are recommended adjustments for helping people live within their new carbon-quota means.

New buildings would be carbon free beginning in 2012, while heat demand for buildings would drop by half and electricity demand decrease by 10 percent, the report said.

The drop in energy demand would give renewable energy sources a better of chance of meeting market needs.

Energy generated by wind, solar and marine sources would feed into the national grid to be stored and shared among the country’s various regions.

Slashing Britain’s carbon emissions also would impact the country’s food system, which would shift to a mostly organic agricultural system with an emphasis on local distribution.

The report calls for a drop in livestock by 60 percent or more, which would have a great impact on the eating habits of the country’s citizenry. The land used for livestock cultivation would shift to forestry and biomass crops.

Rich countries – the world’s worst polluters – would have to assist poorer nations in developing sustainable economies.

A global carbon budget would be drawn, with each developed country getting a share that would shrink each year. Poorer countries would get temporarily rising shares to support their development or sell to wealthier nations to generate revenue for clean technology investment. At an agreed upon date, the two levels of carbon shares would converge.

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