Practical steps towards a net zero carbon future

Letters

One of the fundamental steps to achieving net zero is to increase home energy efficiency, writes Mike Thornton. Plus letters from Tony Jones, Dr Bruce McLeod, Daniel Scharf and Richard Hale

Newly planted saplings
‘Every tree planting organisation continues to use plastic as their default practice despite millions of uncollected petrochemical tubes littering our landscape.’ Photograph: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock
‘Every tree planting organisation continues to use plastic as their default practice despite millions of uncollected petrochemical tubes littering our landscape.’ Photograph: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock

Last modified on Sun 13 Dec 2020 13.19 EST

We will all benefit from a carbon-free future – so the Climate Change Committee’s new route map to address the climate emergency is a hugely exciting moment for the UK (Ending UK’s climate emissions ‘affordable’, say official advisers, 9 December).

By setting out a comprehensive and positive vision to replace all the UK’s fossil-fuel infrastructure within 30 years, the committee provides the scale of ambition we need policymakers to commit to. We urge the government to adopt the recommendation for a target of a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035.

One of the fundamental steps to achieving net zero is to increase home energy efficiency. Indeed, the costs of upgrading existing housing stock, to improve insulation and low carbon heating, will be more than outweighed by the lower energy bills by 2050 – so swift action to improve housing must be an immediate priority for policymakers.
Mike Thornton
Chief executive, Energy Saving Trust

• Your article prompts the thought of a simple action that the government could take now. To demonstrate leadership and commitment in the run up to Cop26, the UK government should announce a temporary halt to expansion plans at all UK airports – a decision that would have both practical and symbolic significance.
Tony Jones
Bristol

• Who could object to the goal of planting more trees ? One major objection is encapsulated in the article’s photograph of plastic tree guards as far as the eye can see. All tree-planting organisations continue to use plastic as their default practice despite their own reservations, public outcry, viable alternatives, and millions of uncollected petrochemical tubes littering our landscape. Planting with plastic must stop now.
Dr Bruce McLeod
Chair, Friends of the Dales, Skipton, North Yorkshire

• The measures that will feature in the transition to net zero carbon lifestyles described by the Climate Change Committee will be mostly achieved and/or experienced by households and families rather than as individuals. The reductions of about 8% per year and the enhancement of biodiversity will both require the encouragement and support of our families, friends and employers. We can use the end of 2020 to hold family assemblies – see www.familyclimateemergency.net – and make emergency declarations that will enable the transition to net zero carbon to be more likely, bearable and rewarding.
Daniel Scharf
Drayton, Oxfordshire

• Thank you, Jonathan Freedland, for your beautifully judged and moving analysis of the 2020 pandemic (The magnifying glass: how Covid revealed the truth about our world, 11 December). What lessons can we draw from this experience to tackle the next looming crisis, that of the climate? Counter populists like Bolsonaro and Trump and make them face the scientific data; curb “chumocracy” and privatisation, and replace with cross-border expertise; tackle inequality in concrete ways through the redistribution of wealth and power; cast off our obsession with GDP and “growth”, and realise that work in future should mean fewer hours, scrapping needless jobs and introducing something along the lines of a universal basic income; reject our addiction to consumption (retail therapy), and re-engage with our astonishing planet.
Richard Hale
London