Can Britain Go Carbon-Neutral?

<p>This article from the <em>Guardian</em> looks at the feasibility of putting in place a recently-announced proposal to make Britain carbon-neutral by 2050.</p>
August 31, 2007, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"The Lib Dems' proposals still need to be approved by party members at next month's conference. But flicking through this vision of life in Britain if we were actually able to reduce carbon emission by 100% makes you realise quite how much political movement there has been on these issues in the past few years. Which mainstream party, after all, would have dared to talk about making it compulsory for cars to be free of carbon emissions by 2040, or establishing personal carbon allowances not just in Britain but across the world, or capping airport capacity at today's levels? The Lib Dems' policy document is about as bold as a mainstream party is likely to go in today's political scene."

"Is it really possible to achieve a zero- carbon Britain, given what we already know of our current lifestyle addictions - flying, driving, heating and shopping - and enslavement to an oil economy? And what would it be like to live in such a place? In essence, what the Lib Dems (and, to be fair, some of the more green-minded Conservative and Labour politicians) are proposing is that we move towards a so-called 'pay as you burn' world. Every service or product we purchase - be it a mini-break, a television, or bottle of wine - would have its full carbon cost 'internalised', as economists like to say. If you have a taste for a carbon-rich lifestyle, you would be highly taxed accordingly. As a carrot to go with this stick, those choosing to live a 'carbon-neutral' lifestyle would be rewarded with far lower taxes and other inducements. For example, the Lib Dems say they would encourage zero-carbon home building through initiatives such as cheaper "green mortgages". Significantly, the Lib Dems say their green taxes (a term that, so far, the Conservatives dare not utter) would be "revenue neutral" too - rises in one area would be accompanied by cuts elsewhere."

"'Localism will become the buzzword,' says Mark Lynas, the environmentalist and author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. 'It is technically possible to achieve a zero-carbon Britain by 2050 as we are blessed with abundant renewable resources, especially off-shore wind in the shallow North Sea.'"

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Published on Thursday, August 30, 2007 in The Guardian
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