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What would a zero carbon economy look like?

(41 Posts)
Jane71 Thu 23-Sep-21 13:36:45

Not sure whether this is the correct section to post this under, but here goes.
With COP26 coming up soon, there is a lot of talk of a zero carbon economy, but no one has explained what they think this would look like. Presumably the world will produce less carbon that we can absorb? If we move towards natural forms of energy such as wind and solar to produce electricity, then presumably we need more and better battery technology, with the resultant effect on metal availability. I can't really see how it will all work without a serious depletion of the earths resources.

grandMattie Thu 23-Sep-21 13:39:18

I think we are also expected to live in caves and wear animal skins, and most particularly, never, ever breathe again!
Only joking.
I agree, we can try to reduce production but how?

Skydancer Thu 23-Sep-21 13:39:21

I agree with you. I can't understand how it will work either.

Skydancer Thu 23-Sep-21 13:43:25

I tell my GC not to worry about the world as clever scientists will always come up with solutions. Let's hope I'm right!

GrannyGravy13 Thu 23-Sep-21 14:09:59

The amount of energy and resources needed to produce batteries is considerable.

I am sure that I have read that in order for an electric car (battery) to be considered carbon neutral it would take 10 years of use. Unfortunately there is no evidence (that I could find) to suggest that a car battery would last that long as it would depend on mileage, the times it has been recharged etc.

Something needs to be done, and yes let’s hope the scientists and engineers come through with viable solutions quickly.

(There is a shortage of rechargeable batteries at the moment, different reasons lithium and microchips)

Smileless2012 Thu 23-Sep-21 14:30:59

I think you're right GrannyGravy and the production and disposal of these car batteries is far from environmental friendly.

I wonder if people are being sucked into buying something that isn't beneficial to the planet as it claims to be.

Namsnanny Thu 23-Sep-21 14:37:27

I think the confusion about cars batteries, ect., undoubtedly means that people will buy them Smileless.
With so much obfuscation, how can we make a good decision?

GrannyGravy13 Thu 23-Sep-21 14:42:16

I purchased a new car two years ago (just before lockdown, hardly used) and I did look at electric and hybrids. In the end I settled for one with a petrol eco engine it is extremely efficient mileage wise, whilst still having what my AC describe as a meaty engine (by their definition it’s quick off the mark and can sustain a high speed, not that I drive it like that)

Hetty58 Thu 23-Sep-21 14:50:28

Energy storage is about far more than just car batteries. There's salt heat storage, hydro etc. that can be used to store domestic and commercial supplies. There's no need for everyone to understand them. Do you know all the workings of your car or boiler?

We really need to plan for - develop and create these technologies fast, though, or we'll be too late to prevent a disaster of our own making.

vegansrock Thu 23-Sep-21 15:15:45

The biggest thing any individual can do for the planet is reduce meat and dairy in their diet . Animal agriculture is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gasses, also land and water use. Of course this isn’t popular as it means a change in personal habits. Perhaps governments will need a carrot/ stick approach

Katie59 Thu 23-Sep-21 15:24:39

Zero carbon is just a political word bite, until there is enough environment to absorb the CO2 we all release. Nobody claims that Electric Cars are zero carbon but they are less polluting particularly in urban areas. Norway is close to having all renewable power now, their imports won’t be. Maybe the UK will be able to achieve that by the end of this century, but expecting all the goods and food that we import to be zero carbon is a long time in the future.
The big uncertainty is will the demands of global population grow faster than decarbonisation.

Urmstongran Thu 23-Sep-21 15:27:15

The biggest thing an individual can do for the planet is not to have children.

Whitewavemark2 Thu 23-Sep-21 15:30:45

It isn’t zero carbon, it is zero NET carbon which is very different. It is the way to offset one against the other, like planting trees as mitigation. However, it certainly does mean cutting back on carbon in order to achieve this.

Alegrias1 Thu 23-Sep-21 15:33:12

I have no children and have been a vegetarian for 35 years.

Where do I pick up my medal? smile

Urmstongran Thu 23-Sep-21 16:00:36

Same as our eldest daughter then Alegrias!

Rosie51 Thu 23-Sep-21 16:08:27

Full medal for no children but only half a medal for being vegetarian Alegrias1 as I assume you eat dairy and eggs. wink

muse Thu 23-Sep-21 16:55:40

Lead-acid batteries used in cars and PV panels can be recycled and used to produce other solar batteries.

VW recently announced a pilot plant for battery recycling which will work towards a target of recycling 97% of battery components. In this process, batteries will be shredded, dried, then sieved to recover valuable materials that can be used to make new batteries.

GrannyGravy13 I'm sure I've read somewhere that the life span of an electric car battery is probably be about 8 years.

Katy59 Norway is close to having all renewable power now, their imports won’t be. Maybe the UK will be able to achieve that by the end of this century.
I would like to think this too but doubt it. We don't have the hydro potential that Norway has but we could have more solar farms and off shore wind farms but both these cause controversy. I live close to a solar farm and didn't object to its installation. I would only object to more being installed on good agriculture land and this one wasn't.

M0nica Thu 23-Sep-21 17:49:33

The answer is nuclear, preferably fusion but if all else fails the small modular fission systems being developed by companies like Rolls Royce, which are cheaper and easier to control and produce less radioactive waste. Do away with these huge nuclear stations like those the chinese are building and are only good for holding us over a barrel, until such time as fusion stations are developed, they will be - finally, but when...... Your guess is as good as mine.

Alegrias1 Thu 23-Sep-21 17:52:43

Well, given that fusion is still not available as an option, what shall we do with the fission waste that's radioactive for 40, 000 years?

M0nica Thu 23-Sep-21 19:40:08

What shall we do if we are unable worldwide to provide enough power to support the world population. All lie down in our beds and lie there until we die? Start mining coal and extracting gas, cut down trees to fuel power stations?

Most of the waste is not radioactive for 40,000 years. Most of it can be disposed of easily.

What is your solution?

Alegrias1 Thu 23-Sep-21 19:51:59

According to the link, The electricity generated from nuclear reactors results in small amount of waste and has been managed responsibly since the dawn of civil nuclear power.

They used to throw it down a deep hole near Dounreay, until it exploded and showered radioactivity everywhere. Hardly responsible.

So when the nuclear industry tells me that its only a small amount, it will be fine, I'm sorry, I'm not convinced. Any more than I'm convinced that it can be disposed of easily

The only answer is proper renewables. If we move to nuclear we are only substituting a carbon based fuel for a radioactive one and kicking the can down the road for future generations to deal with.

M0nica Thu 23-Sep-21 20:31:10

What renewables can be managed to provide a steady baseload equallying 40% of total demand. Certainly not wind or solar. It doesn't matter how many windfarms we have in these islanda and off shore, if the wind aint blowing, the wind ain't blowing.

Look at Second row of graphs. Compare wind output for this month and last.

So what is your solution? I have asked that once already.

Alegrias1 Thu 23-Sep-21 21:06:38

Solar, wind. Tidal barrage, heat pumps, geothermal, biofuels, hydro. Hydrogen.

Battery storage.

And, of course, an understanding that the renewables and storage systems we are using today can be developed and improved to be more efficient.

So you can ask as often as you like, but the answer is always "renewables".

GrannyGravy13 Thu 23-Sep-21 21:18:07

Renewables yes, along with a total rethink of cheap is good, paying the going rate for the job and a reset of the throwaway society

muse Fri 24-Sep-21 00:37:53

MOnica. Cornwall has done just what you say. 40% of energy produced is from wind and solar. Much could be learnt by the rest of the UK by looking at what is happening in that county where the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership are working towards being net zero carbon by 2030, a full 20 years ahead of the UK. However, the council do admit that local change won't happen there unless national and global systems change as well but it isn't stopping them providing evidence that is it is achievable. It's worth while reading what their solution is MOnica. It does however take 78 pages to explain their solution.

In the last eight years, Cornwall has cut its carbon footprint by almost a fifth, and two-thirds of emissions reductions have been achieved by decarbonising electricity.

The wind does blow MOnica. The further you go off shore, the greater the force wind is. It is also more consistent. That where current innovation and investment is going. There will be inconsistency, as in the graph, if we just rely on onshore wind farms. More far off shores ones are needed.