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Chapter Nine - What is Meant by a Low Carbon Economy?

The term low-carbon (and net-zero) economy is used often by politicians and has gained common parlance but what do we mean by it?  In its simplest, it is an economy less reliant on fossil fuels for energy.  A low-carbon economy will not simply be an economy powered by wind turbines, nuclear power stations and solar panels, with electric cars and high-speed trains, but will be vastly different from  the one of today with new social norms (such as in our attitude towards travel) and technologies deployed (whether traditional or futuristic) to reduce our carbon-based energy use.  A net-zero economy is one where there is also some carbon sequestration.  And to give the reader some idea of the challenge ahead, the World Resources Institute has stated that all buildings must be net zero carbon by 2050... but fewer than 1% are today.  Alternatively, achieving net zero carbon globally by 2050 is the equivalent of building one new nuclear power plant every day for the next 3 decades!

Much has…

Chapter Eight - Drawdown

Technology and Innovation

Technology, as we have seen, has played a critical role in shaping the modern world, paticularly in the last 250 years.  It has been central to our enjoying continued economic growth over that period; raising enormously our standards of living.  We do, however, require continued innovation to help solve the climate crisis.  Not only do we need to deploy existing technologies but also we need to invent new ones.

It is important, therefore, to ensure that technology advancement continues.  We cannot allow the economy to stagnate.  We need continued incentives for entrepreneurs to innovate and bring products to market.

The view now is that technology and innovation are realised within systems where there is also an active government intervention.  They cannot be left to markets alone although markets remain a powerful force.  Since we need to accelerate the process of innovation, we should focus our resources to create such an environment.  The U.K. government, …