Climate change: What can you do to cut carbon emissions?

Credit: AP

The UK should aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, a report has said.

The Committee on Climate Change recommends the UK sets and pursues the emissions target and to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5C in the long-term.

The 'net zero' target will mean an end to heating of homes with traditional gas boilers, more green electricity, and a switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles, walking and cycling.

But what can individuals do to help reach the zero emissions target?

  • What can people do in their own lives to reduce emissions?


People can choose to walk, cycle or take public transport instead of driving.

If you buy a new car, make it an electric one and charge it 'smartly' - when the energy grid is in low use and consider joining a car club, if you don't use your car regularly.

Try to minimise flying where possible, especially long-haul flights.

In their own home

Make your home more energy efficient through better insulation, draught-proofing, choosing LED lightbulbs and electrical appliances with high efficiency ratings.

Set thermostats no higher than 19 degrees and water temperature in heating systems no higher than 55 degrees, the report suggests.

Consider switching your home to a low-carbon heating system such as a heat pump, especially if you live off the gas grid, if you are on the gas grid consider a hybrid system.

What you eat

Reduce the amount of beef, lamb and dairy you consume in your diet and eliminate food waste, by using a separate food waste bin, if you can.

With other waste, reduce, reuse and recycle and use only peat-free compost.

What you buy

Choose good quality products that will last and use them for longer and try to repair before you replace.

Share rather than buy items like power tools that you don't use frequently.

Dialing down your thermostat to below 19C could help reduce emissions. Credit: PA
  • What will cutting emissions to zero involve?

Phasing out greenhouse gases over the next three decades will require changes in all areas of the economy including more low-carbon power, electric vehicles, tackling emissions from aviation and industry and changes to how land is used and buildings are heated.

Greenhouse gases should be cut down to almost zero by 2050, the report says. Credit: PA
  • What role can the UK play?

The UK's current emissions make up only a small percentage of the overall global output, the country has led the industrial revolution and has made a major contribution to greenhouse gas pollution over time.

Cutting all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 will meet the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming and provide leadership for other countries to follow suit.

Cutting back on flying and long-haul flights is recommended in the report. Credit: PA
  • Why do we need to aim for zero emissions?

Greenhouse gases are leading to a warming of the planet and to elimate this and stabilise the planet's temperature, global emissions need to fall to zero overall.

The UN said in a report last year to keep temperatures rising by more than 1.5C in the long-term, countries need to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, with steep cuts in other greenhous gases.

Planting more trees will help 'offset' carbon emissions. Credit: PA
  • What does net zero mean?

Net zero emissions means using methods to take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and 'offsetting' the remaining pollution with carbon removal.

For example, by planting more trees to absorb carbon dioxide.