Managing resources sustainably is key to cutting UK greenhouse gases, says report

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UK could cut CO2e emissions by 100 million tonnes in ten years by using resources more efficiently, according to a new report.

Titled ‘Net Zero: why resource efficiency holds the answers’, the report warns that focusing exclusively on energy is ‘only half of the solution’ to tackling climate change associated with carbon emissions.

The report was produced by environmental charity WRAP with researchers from The Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS).

Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, commented on the findings: “The race to meet net zero and halt climate change becomes more urgent with every passing day, and with COP26 on the horizon the pressure is on to deliver realistic strategies.

“We have a perfect storm brewing with a growing global population consuming more products and putting more pressure on nature and limiting our ability to cut emissions.

“Our report shows how and why resource efficiency will help meet net zero. Changing how we use materials and energy today will create a healthier, safer planet for tomorrow and the strategies in Net Zero are simple and easily actionable steps on the journey to net zero.

“Through it, we offer a clear and practical roadmap to deliver huge reductions in carbon emissions.”

According to the report, between now and 2050, using natural resources more sustainably and extending the useful lifetime of products, and preventing loss or waste, could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions incurred by UK consumption by two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

That is the equivalent to eliminating the combined annual territorial greenhouse gas emissions of the UK, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria.

The report goes on to state that improving resource efficiency in goods and services is crucial to tackling climate change but simple resource efficiency strategies that drive forward action without costly interventions or new technology are being overlooked in work toward net zero.

Professor John Barrett, Chair in Energy and Climate Policy at University of Leeds added: “Putting ‘the economy’ in one corner and ‘the climate crisis’ in another is never going to work. Delivering a high quality of life for all is possible while reducing the throughput of high carbon intensive products.

“Our analysis shows the options available to ensure that we get the maximum social benefit from our resource use and how this will make a significant contribution to reducing our Greenhouse Gas Emissions in many of the ‘hard to mitigate’ sectors.”

The full report can be viewed on the WRAP website.