A new report on the potential for a net-zero economy by 2050 concludes that “a relatively small number of key behavioral changes … will reduce most of the necessary emissions.” Although this includes our combined meat-eating and slight cutbacks to air travel, the authors emphasize that creating a net-zero world “does not call for a reduction in the quality of life.” Produced by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the report covers the steps that the UK must implement to reach the goal of net-zero by the middle of the century, as well as the interim goal of reducing emissions by 68 percent in 2030 and 78 percent in 2035.
The authors explain that the decline in almost all non-mission emissions in the decade from 2019 to 2019 was “distributed through behaviors that do not lead to any behavioral change”; the decarbonization of the UK power sector is responsible for the percentage of this improvement. However, they warn that over the next 15 years, a significant amount of reduction will have to be achieved through lifestyle changes. According to the report, 59 percent of all emissions reductions will come from behavioral adaptations between 2020 and 2035, with technological innovations providing the remaining 49 percent.
Specifically, the authors say that this will require all of us to reduce the number of miles we travel by air by about six percent. Our road mileage will also have to be reduced by four percent; on the other hand, about 60 percent of all cars will have to be electric by 2035. Citing a recent analysis by the Climate Change Committee, the report said the country needs to reduce meat consumption in the UK by 20 percent by 2035 and a further 15 percent by 2050 in order to meet the target. Other key changes include installing low-carbon heating systems in about 40 percent of homes by 2035 and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Overall, the report calls for a 37 percent reduction in the amount of waste generated by each individual over the next 14 years and states that this can be achieved through reduced costs and recycling and recycling. “Behavioral change is inevitably an important part of the response to climate change,” the researchers wrote.