The reality of the UK’s net zero ambition: the role of carbon capture
In 2019, the UK and Scottish Governments made their commitments to net zero, with target dates of 2050 and 2045 respectively. Relatively, both countries are progressing well, with emissions falling faster than in other major developed economies. However, with 326m tonnes of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)’ emitted in 2020, there is still a long road ahead.
Corporates are a key contributor of these emissions and, under growing pressure from customers, shareholders and employees, are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. For some industries - this is challenging. Achieving net zero by means of reduction measures alone is infeasible at this stage. Therefore, in parallel with the decarbonisation of their operations, businesses are looking to mitigate their climate impact in the shorter term by purchasing verified emission reductions (VER), otherwise known as carbon credits.
The voluntary carbon market is still in its infancy but burgeoning demand, increased regulation and greater standardisation of the product(s) will drive significant growth. The market is forecast to grow from £1bn today to around £40bn by 2030.
Woodland creation and peatland restoration will be at the forefront of land-based credit generation initially but neutralising the residual emissions from the FTSE 100’s top ten companies alone would require a woodland four times the size of Birmingham to be planted each year!
Carbon credits must be used in conjunction with other climate mitigation strategies. However, if well-implemented and managed, verified emission reductions will help private finance to flow towards nature-based solutions (NbS) as our societies journey towards net zero.
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