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‘Net zero’ carbon emissions

The UK hosted the COP26 (26th Conference of the Parties) United Nations Climate Change Conference in November 2021. In the build up to this, leaders of GeoWeek in May (1-9th May) led field visits in their local areas to discuss ‘Net-Zero by 2050 - what will this mean for our area?’ with members of the public.

•  How will the ‘net-zero’ target affect your local area?

To give more background to our prospective field leaders, the Earthlearningidea Team prepared a series considering what the different local options might be. These are listed below:

Possible mitigation measures

Use alternative energy sources to the fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases, such as:
•  energy from solar farms
•  energy from waves
•  energy from wind turbine arrays
•  energy from a tidal barrage
•  energy from nuclear fuel
•  storage of high-level radioactive waste
•  growing biofuel
•  producing blue hydrogen fuel
•  producing hydrogen of many colours (situation in UK)
•  extracting geothermal energy - ‘hot dry rocks’
•  extracting heat (geothermal) from flooded coal mines
•  local ‘Archimedes screw’ hydroelectric projects
•  installing ground or air source heat pumps
•  energy from non-recyclable waste incineration
•  using waste output methane to fire brick kilns

Use fossil fuels but stop them releasing greenhouse gases by:
•  storing the carbon that would have been released (carbon capture or carbon sequestration)

Store energy from sources that give irregular energy supplies by:
•  more efficient networks of batteries
•  producing green hydrogen fuel
•  hydroelectric pumped storage
•  storing compressed gases underground

Provide raw materials for new technologies to reduce carbon emissions, such as for:
•  electric cars and the electric charging network
•  enhanced insulation of buildings

Remove carbon from the atmosphere by:
•  supplying and spreading crushed rock for enhanced weathering  - Extension
•  planting trees extensively

Possible adaptation measures
•  in response to rising sea level and coastal flooding - coastline management measures
•  in response to increased likelihood of inland flooding from higher storm rainfall - flood management measures
•  in response to increased likelihood of landslides and rockfall - extra monitoring and addressing of problems
•  in response to reductions in surface or groundwater supply - identifying new water sources. (No Earthlearningidea)
•  agricultural responses to a different climate - exploring new methods and crops
•  more summer heatwaves – installing methods for cooling homes efficiently. (No Earthlearningidea)
•  developing the local structures necessary to cope with these problems, including educating the local population. (No Earthlearningidea)