British people need to fly less, drive electric cars, eat little meat and turn their home thermostats down to 19 degrees Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) in order to rein in greenhouse gases damaging the planet.
Those are the recommendations from the government’s official adviser on climate change and sketch out the toughest measures anywhere in the industrial world to rein in pollution. Drawn up by a panel including lawmakers, scientists, industry officials and analysts, their 277-page report also suggests a drastic over-haul for industry, agriculture and aviation.
The findings mark out the ways Prime Minister Theresa May and her successors can reach a target to cut net emissions to zero by 2050, something scientists say is necessary to prevent more violent storms and rising seas that come with climate change. It’s an indication that there’s a growing consensus on the environment in the UK even as lawmakers remain deeply divided about how the nation should leave the European Union.
The report suggested that: Electric vehicles should replace ones running on gasoline or diesel by 2035 or earlier. Coal should be phased out of the power grid in the 2020s, with renewables taking a bigger share. Carbon-capture and storage plants should be built early in the next decade and expanded to absorb more emissions from remaining fossil-fuel plants. Trees should be planted at a pace of 30,000 hectares (116 square miles) each year, double the current rate. Buildings should draw heat from underground pumps and electricity, phasing out boilers fueled by natural gas. Consumers should reduce food waste and eat things that require less carbon, prioritising plant-based nutrients over meat. Emissions cuts should be done without offsets from international carbon markets.
“We are not asking people to lead a miserable life,” John Gummer, former Conservative lawmaker who chairs the Committee on Climate Change, told reporters in London before the report was released.
“We are looking to having as fulfilled, as different, as various a life as we have today and to do it in a way in which we take respect for the future.”
Sensing a lack of commitment from the British government, thousands of protesters from Extinction Rebellion took to the streets of London in April, blocking several main thoroughfares in a call for reaching net-zero emissions by 2025. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said mi-nisters should declare a climate emergency.
Ministers from governments across the political spectrum have traditionally endorsed suggestions from the committee. The government will consider the report and release a detailed response sometime in the future. Greg Clark, the Cabinet minister in charge of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, signaled that ministers are likely to endorse at least some of the findings.