Why we need to take the road to zero

It’s no coincidence that around Earth Day 2019, climate change is at the height of media attention with the Extinction Rebellion protests, climate change documentaries from David Attenborough and Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg bringing the issue to the forefront.

We’ve come a long way from the small group of activists such as those who formed Greenpeace in 1971. While opinion is still divided on approaches to tackle climate change, there is now a widespread understanding of the causes, ramifications and acceptance that urgent changes must be made.

Scientists are now in agreement that the global warming we’re experiencing is anthropogenic, or man-made. We know that emitting greenhouse gases (of which CO2 makes up 74%) creates a barrier around the planet absorbing solar energy and releasing back towards the Earth’s lower atmosphere. This causes a rise in the average global temperature resulting in the melting of sea ice and raising sea levels. Not to mention greatly effecting many wildlife habitats.

To avoid the temperature of our atmosphere rising by over 1.5C, it is recognised we need to become net-zero in our carbon emissions. Currently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) outlines that we must achieve our net-zero goal by 2050, whereas more extreme groups such as Extinction Rebellion demand this must happen in as little as 6 years. Take a look at this video to understand more about our carbon budget, the likelihood of us going over it and a better idea of the scale of the challenge we face.

Dr Marc Stettler, Director of the Transport & Environment Laboratory, Grantham Institute – at a Future of Technology Series Debate.

In the UK, a number of key industries and day-to-day activities contribute to our overall annual carbon emissions. Transport is the UK’s worst culprit for emissions, responsible for around 27% of carbon which is released into our atmosphere. This is made up of automotive, domestic aviation, rail and more (2017 UK Green House Gas Figures, BEIS), which together need to be tackled to enable the UK to lower emissions and hit net-zero targets.

Over our initial 10 year life-span at the APC, we have the goal to save 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from the automotive industry. To do this, we are investing in automotive technologies that can help us lower emissions and ultimately protect our environment. With our support, organisations are trying to find the technology solutions that can provide the answer to a zero-carbon future in the automotive industry, as well as improving the efficiency of the technology that is essential as we transition towards this.