Frontloading of Emissions and Net Zero

In 2019 the UK government committed to reaching Net Zero in the UK by 2050 (as recommended by the Climate Change committee). To achieve this commitment by 2050 the UK will have to see extensive changes across many aspects including substantial improvements in both resource and energy efficiency. These changes cannot be achieved quickly and 2050 can feel like a long time away, but we must act now.

It is critical that over the coming decade we “front load” actions on emission reductions. Front loading of emissions refers to substantial reduction in emissions by 2030, these “near term” reductions are key in ensuring we do not exceed the global emissions budget which is of paramount importance when trying to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. This is because the decisions we make now have a long-term implication for the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and therefore the temperature change we will see. The longer it takes to peak emissions and move away from a high carbon baseline, the more carbon will be emitted in the short term. It is therefore essential that governments and countries set strong near-term interim targets, as well as long-term goals. Substantial front loading will allow greater flexibility in the future when trying to decarbonise sectors that are more complicated to decarbonise such as transport and heavy industry.

The technology required to achieve this “front loading” of emissions often already exists however investment is lacking. Not only is this an environmental necessity, it is becoming more and more economically viable. In the current energy crisis utility expenses are becoming an extremely costly operational expenditure, and these operational costs will likely remain high for an extended period, with the “British Energy Security Strategy” (April 2022) having a “lack of effective solutions” with regards to energy policy.

Today, we have many technologies and initiatives available to assist with the front loading of emissions:

Solar power

Solar power is a well-known and popular form of onsite energy generation. This method increases energy independence and can save companies substantial amounts in addition to being a form of renewable energy. Large companies such as Morrisons have significantly invested in solar power and consider the technology to play a vital part in achieving their environmental goals.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

CHP is a form of onsite energy generation. The system converts a fuel (of which biogenic fuel sources are available) into both electricity and heat in a process called cogeneration. The key feature of this process is the capture of heat during combustion, the captured heat can be used for heating, cooling, and other processes. CHP can reach efficiency ratings of 80%, traditional gas powered electricity plants usually have efficiency ratings of around 50% which shows just how efficient CHP can be. These factors mean CHP can reduce utility costs by up to 40% and deliver fast payback.

Behaviour and Energy Efficiency

Reducing emissions doesn’t have to be as complicated as investing in new technologies, it can be as simple as behavioural change. Companies can engage with a variety of measures to improve their energy consumption, for example companies can introduce a designated environmental champion who can advise colleagues on best environmental practises and advise them on ways to save energy during the day to day.

Low Capital Investment Options

Low capital investment options can yield significant savings in the form of energy and therefore money. Common options include things such as heating controls; having a timer controlling the heating system will help to ensure you are not using energy unnecessarily during periods of inoccupation. Increasing insulation throughout the building will help to ensure heat loss is minimised, and conducting an energy audit can highlight areas of inefficiency so action can be taken.

The target set by UK government is achievable, however we need businesses to get on board. Should you have any questions on how to start your journey to Net Zero, get in touch with our team today on