7,500. That’s roughly the number of working days from now till 2050, by which time the UK is legally bound to hit net zero carbon emissions. In Scotland, the target is 2045.
At Nesta, we’re focusing on one part of the net zero challenge: rapidly reducing emissions from the UK’s homes, which currently account for around 22 per cent of total emissions.
It’s a big task. According to the Energy Systems Catapult, the average household needs to bring its heating-related emissions down from roughly 2,745 kg of CO2 per year today to just 138 kg per year by 2050. That means upgrading the vast majority of our 29 million or so existing homes. We’ll need tens of thousands of skilled tradespeople, and widespread behaviour change.
There’s no doubt it’s a stretching goal. Household emissions have stayed pretty stagnant in recent years, and without intervention, they’re likely to go up by 2050 rather than down. But the good news is that societies can - and crucially, have - changed norms and practices around energy use quickly before. And we think we can learn a lot by looking at how they did it.
We’ve partnered with Rapid Transition Alliance to share five stories of successful energy transitions, from the UK and beyond.These stories demonstrate that rapid transitions in energy and sustainability are possible. And that they can be led from the top down or the bottom up. Crucially, they show us that to be successful, we are likely to need government commitment backed by clear targets and sustained investment, and a compelling reason for change that makes sense to the public.
These stories give us reason for ‘evidence-based hope’. And that’s just what we’ll need to get on the path to net zero.