Public asked to explore how UK can cut its emissions over next decade

New initiative launched with just over 100 days to go to crucial UN Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow.

Cyclists using roundabout which prioritises bikes (Joe Giddens/PA)
Cyclists using roundabout which prioritises bikes (Joe Giddens/PA)

The UK public are being asked to explore how best to deliver major cuts to emissions in an initiative launched in the run up to crucial UN climate talks.

The scheme by think tank Demos, nature charity WWF, National  Grid and Scottish Power, uses an interactive “climate calculator” to allow people to set out their path to a greener future.

It has been launched just over 100 days before the Cop26 climate summit takes place in Glasgow in November, and aims to build on public engagement in the UK Climate Assembly which gathered 100 people from around the country to discuss measures to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.

As part of the UK’s international climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, which was agreed at a UN summit in the French capital in 2015, Britain has committed to cut greenhouse gases by 68% by 2030.

People can use the climate calculator to choose their preferred package of solutions for cutting emissions to curb dangerous global warming, and see the impact of different policies in areas such as home heating, transport and food.

It is designed to be easy to use, including for those who are not experts and can take just five minutes to complete, the organisations behind the calculator said.

Options people can choose include how ambitious the Government should be on transport, such as whether there should be more investment in buses and cycling or a 60mph speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways.

They can also examine how quickly low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps should be installed and whether it should be paid for by taxpayers or paid for through energy bills .

The calculator also lets people consider higher charges for high carbon goods and how changing UK food production might free up land for planting the right trees in the right places and creating habitats for wildlife.

Charles Seaford, Senior Fellow at Demos, said:  “The Climate Assembly was a game-changer in involving people in the UK’s mission to tackle climate change.

“Building on its success, we are now asking people across the whole of the UK to have their say on how we can meet our 2030 climate goals to save the planet, using an interactive climate tool.

“You have the greatest opportunity yet to step into the shoes of our political leaders and set out your ideal path to net zero.”

He urged people to make their voices heard on climate policies that would affect them and their communities.

Young trees in newly created woodland
People will be able to make choices about food production to free up land for trees (Emily Beament/PA)

Isabella O’Dowd, head of climate change at WWF, said: “The climate and nature crisis impacts us all – so it’s only right that we should all get a say in how we tackle it.

“The Government needs an urgent and credible strategy to show how the UK can reach its net zero emissions targets – and this groundswell of public voices and choices on the finer detail of cutting emissions can help make this a reality.”

Duncan Burt, Cop26 director at National Grid, said tackling climate change was “no easy task” and would take every one working together to find the way forward.

“We are absolute in our view that it must be a just transition that everyone benefits and no-one is left behind.

“So we hope the climate calculator will help raise awareness and increase understanding of the impact of different climate policies and solutions.”

And Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, said: “To have a successful green energy revolution in the UK, people must be at the heart of it, with governments, regulators and industry working together to enable everyone to make better choices.

“This fantastic tool can help show the positive impact those changes can have and deliver a better future, quicker, for everyone.”

People can take part by accessing the Climate Calculator here: www.climatecalculator.co.uk

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