Net Zero is not an option

In these Covid-19 riddled days you might think there are few breathes of fresh air. But they are there. Locally you might have noticed the respite from cars and lorries for a long period. Look further afield and you might have seen images of the world not ruined by smog. What we have learnt, in such a short period of time, is that the harm we currently inflict on our world can be reversed. No change is easy, it has taken a pandemic not politicians to demonstrate change is possible. Our challenge is to ensure the change continues to happen and we must up the pace to make a world better for our children to enjoy. “Net Zero” is one of the recent buzz words used widely by politicians and scientists. By aiming to balance the carbon we produce by matched environmental actions, we can make that difference happen. In Northumberland we have seen the County Council commit to net zero emissions by 2030. Statements look good but without action we achieve nothing. Of real importance is that it is up to us to make change happen. Nobody else will, we must take responsibility for the results of our past actions whatever our age. Let us give our children the best example ever for improving their lives. Climate science has demonstrated that in order to halt climate change we must stop carbon emissions. Reducing them is not enough. ‘Net Zero’ means that any emissions are balanced by absorbing the equivalent from the atmosphere. No easy task. The UK has legislated for net zero emissions by 2050. How will this be done? What is the challenge? As has been said before, failure is not an option. One village, Humshaugh, has recently started on the process towards the Net Zero target. The first step was to commission Newcastle University to measure the baseline carbon emissions for the village. Without knowledge of this then the quantum of the task is unknown. Questionnaires were received back from 110 households (over 30% of the village), even with the constraints of the Covid19 lockdown restrictions. From this the findings were that the contribution to the village’s carbon consumption from electricity was 8%. Only 37% of households are on a green tariff – an easy win to reduce carbon consumption. As the village is off the gas grid more than 77% of households rely on oil or LPG gas for main form of heating. This contributes over 28% of all household carbon emissions. Most households use cars for their transport needs. Humshaugh has a fairly reasonable bus service but given high car ownership it has fairly few users in the village. Food purchasing and consumption accounts for over 22% of village carbon consumption. The Humshaugh survey has shown that over 73% of respondents are concerned or very concerned about the harmful effects of climate change. They are keen to explore ways in which the village can reduce its carbon emissions to reach a “Net Zero” target. So what next for Humshaugh? The results of the survey has been sent to respondents and is available in the Village Shop and on village web sites. A plan is underway to invite anyone in the village to continue to be involved in achieving a “Net Zero” target for Humshaugh. Volunteers are now sought to actively work together as an Action Group to drive forward the results of the survey to actuality. There will be opportunities to run seminars on different technologies to start the process of using more carbon emission friendly solutions. So Humshaugh residents, want to take part? Both actively or to be kept informed? Send an email to and you will be contacted. Net Zero is not an option, not a target, it’s a result we need to achieve to leave our environment in the best condition for our future generations.