To meet our net zero emissions targets, the UK needs to carry out green upgrades in at least 25 million homes in the next three decades - around one every 30 seconds. In the coming decades, our countryside and cities will undergo a host of transformations in response to the pressures of a changing climate. For many this shift will be most visibly played out in cities as just over 80 per cent of the UK’s population live in urban areas.
A growing population will increase the pressure on the UK’s built environment, but we cannot afford for investment in new housing to come at the expense of increased greenhouse emissions. Meanwhile, we are on the verge of one of the biggest changes to the fabric of our streets and homes in a century - the widespread electrification of heating and transport. The transition will affect almost everyone: to meet our net zero emissions targets, the UK needs to carry out green upgrades in at least 25 million homes in the next three decades - around one every 30 seconds.
Beyond our cities, in rural areas, we will likely see a surge in nature-based efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. From less radical initiatives (such as preserving peat bogs for the vital role they play as a carbon trap), through to proposals for rewilding - we can expect to see more active management of the UK’s depleted biodiversity and ecosystem in the coming decade.
Given that the success of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are uncertain, more interventionist measures (which have previously occupied the fringes) are attracting increased attention as serious options. This ranges from less contentious approaches such as air capture and storage of carbon (already the focus of large-scale International Energy Agency pilots) through to more controversial ideas such as adding sulphur dioxide to the upper atmosphere to block solar radiation. If the UK doesn’t explore these options, other countries still might.
Our contributors urge the UK policymaking community to position itself at the forefront of innovation in this sphere. To bolster local energy capacity, Guy Newey makes the case for enabling energy transfers between neighbours. Dervilla Mitchell argues for an injection of pace and ambition in decarbonising the very fabric of the built environment - concrete itself. Professor Sir David King champions climate repair, is it time to start entertaining the idea of ‘refreezing’ the arctic?
Regeneration game was published as part of Minister for the Future, bold new thinking on the long-term issues policymakers can't afford to ignore, in partnership with Prospect. Illustrations by Ian Morris.
Why refreezing the arctic is far more sensible than it soundsRead more
Decarbonised concrete is possible, but only with an equally solid timetableRead more
It's time to power up neighbourhood energy transfersRead more