Timber Framing The Answer To Net Zero Emissions In The UK?

If the UK is to meet its target of net zero emissions come the year 2050, numerous strategies have to be employed, including building with timber framing, soil carbon sequestration, habitat restoration, forestation and carbonated waste.

This is one of the conclusions drawn from a new report by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, putting these greenhouse gas removal (GGR) strategies forward as ideas because they could provide more than a quarter of the target to reach net zero emissions.

The likes of enhanced terrestrial weathering in agricultural soils, biochar, direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage could help make up the rest of the 2050 target.

Other action that has to take place in order to achieve net zero emissions is increase forestation to five per cent of land, restore wetlands and salt marshes, and store more carbon in agricultural land. An incentive scheme should also be set up to encourage farmers to use their land to store carbon, while changes in building practices to use more wood and cement manufactured with carbonated waste should also be pushed through.

Chair of the report working group professor Gideon Henderson (also professor of earth science at Oxford University) commented on the findings, saying: “If the UK acts now on greenhouse gas removal, we can reach national emissions targets and show how a major industrialised economy can play a leading role in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“In this report we’ve identified the available GGR technologies, how they might be used together for maximum effect, and how their phased development and deployment could enable the urgent action required to avoid the devastating impact of climate change.

“We must absolutely continue to prioritise rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but we will also have to use these GGR methods to achieve international climate goals and steward the planet for future generations.”

According to the Committee on Climate Change, emissions in the UK were 41 per cent below 1990 levels in 2016. While we’re on track to outperform the second carbon budget (2018-2022), we’re apparently not on track to meet the fourth, covering the period 2023-2027.

In order to meet future carbon budgets and hit our target of reducing emissions by at least 80 per cent of 1990 levels come the year 2050, domestic emissions will have to be reduced by at least three per cent each year.

So what can be done? Becoming more energy efficient can be achieved through better insulation, more efficient boilers and appliances, fuel-efficient vehicles and using lights and heating controls more effectively.

Moving away from the likes of coal and gas-fired power towards electricity generated from renewable sources, nuclear power and the likes of carbon capture and storage will also prove beneficial, eventually signalling a shift away from the use of fossil fuels for heat.