Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

A Green Future – What might we expect?

children-of-war-1172016_1280 Net Zero will bring Famine

Assume for a moment that the world achieves net zero carbon emissions and that no more fossil fuels are being produced or consumed. How might life change on Earth?

Firstly, let us assume that with no fossil fuels being burnt the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere falls to pre industrial levels of around 280 parts per million. CO2 is an essential requirement for plant growth so plants, and in particular, food crop production would probably fall by about 20%.

The lack of synthetic fertilisers requiring natural gas for their production would further decrease crop production by around 30%, see Ritchie, "How Many People Does Synthetic Fertiliser Feed?," Our World in Data (November 7, 2017).

Now around half the world population is starving.

The National Grid estimate of £3 trillion for the UK to achieve net carbon zero (National Grid Future Energy Scenarios 2020) turns out to be a low estimate and the real cost has risen to £4 trillion. Everyone in the country is £50,000 worse off. Globally the cost per person is similar and now 75% of the world population is starving.

There are very few plastics; synthetic fabrics; synthetic dyes or paints; no oil based lubricants; no synthetic rubber for vehicle tyres and no fossil fuel feedstock for pharmaceutical production. Almost all appliances; vehicles and other products requiring plastics are no longer available. Plastic replacements made from crops are very few and very expensive. These and biofuels require more agricultural land and their production is hampered by low CO2 levels and the lack of fertilisers. Food production is further reduced and now 80% of the world's population is starving or has already starved.

Only the most basic medical interventions are possible due to the fact that most medical devices require plastics and most pharmaceuticals can no longer be manufactured.

Hardly any new steel can be manufactured as there is no coal for blast furnaces. Iron is once again smelted using charcoal but this requires the felling of large numbers of hardwood trees from our forests.

There are very few ships and very few aeroplanes. The only ships that remain are nuclear powered. Air travel is extremely expensive due to the cost of producing biofuels. A small number of wooden sailing ships have reappeared. There are also a few electric powered aircraft, but they are small and have limited range.

The cost of electricity has risen to twenty times the cost in 2024. This is due to the cost of nuclear power; wind and solar power being far greater than oil or gas powered generators. No new wind turbines can be built as there is not enough new cement or steel. Existing turbine blades have to be replaced by wooden blades when their fibreglass blades fail. As electricity is now almost the exclusive source of energy for heating; domestic and industrial activities and transport, production and distribution has had to be increased enormously. The insulation for all new wiring is by natural fabric or bioplastics increasing both cost and scarcity.

Roads cannot be built or repaired due to the lack of asphalt. This might not be a serious problem as there are now very few vehicles on the roads. Some wooden wheeled horse drawn vehicles have reappeared.

For the vast majority of people still surviving, life is hard. It is barely distinguishable from life in the 18th Century.

The climate is unaffected and continues to change due to natural forces. 

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Tel: 020 7287 4414
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Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
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