Unearthed today: The UK’s path to zero carbon

Welcome to Unearthed today the daily climate and environment news wrap from @damiankahya. Sign up below.

I’m reading about.. the UK’s climate plan

Or, at least, the one proposed by its independent climate advisors. The Climate Change Committee now says that, for less than 1% of national wealth, the UK can reduce 78% of emissions by 2035, based on 1990 levels, Roger Harrabin notes. 

“Until last year, that was effectively our 2050 target. The implication of net-zero is we have brought that forward by 15 years,” says Chris Stark at the CCC.

The report calls for the sale of gas boilers to be banned entirely by the early 2030’s – as power is decarbonised entirely and used to heat homes instead. Because it’s expensive to install electric heating systems – such as heat pumps – the CCC says the government should put aside £3-4bn each year to support 1 million households a year in making the transition by 2030, reports the BBC. 

The plan envisages air travel staying near current levels and meat-eating, which is already falling, being reduced by just 20% by 2030. Both would need their emissions offset and so mixed woodlands covering an area three times the size of Greater London should be planted by 2035, capturing CO2 and providing new green spaces, reports Damian Carrington in The Guardian. 

The news comes as Reuters reports that the British energy watchdog Ofgem on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for 40 billion pounds ($53.4 billion) in spending on its utility networks between 2021-26 to help prepare for more renewable power, including a higher than planned limit on grid operators’ returns.

Read more from the New Scientist & CCC

Three things you need to know:

Shell executives quit amid concerns company isn’t going to be as green as it says it wants to: Apparently, some top executives at Shell are concerned about investing larger sums into greener businesses that are not as lucrative as traditional fossil-fuel divisions. They also believe the company has already moved aggressively and “only needs to communicate better”.

Greenhouse gas emissions transforming the Arctic into ‘an entirely different climate‘: The Arctic’s rapid transformation into a less frozen, hotter and biologically altered place has been further exacerbated by a year of wildfires, soaring temperatures and loss of ice, US scientists have reported.

Call for PR firms to have own emissions category: These businesses certainly contribute to carbon pollution by promoting high-emissions activities, and yet there’s still no way to quantify their responsibility for the damage caused by climate change writes Bloomberg’s Eric Roston.