Net zero: how government can meet its climate change target

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at what is needed to make the commitment to the net zero 2050 target credible.

Stronger leadership and co-ordination from the prime minister is needed if the UK’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050 is to be credible. This report warns that over a year on from adopting the target – a decision made by Theresa May but which Boris Johnson has endorsed since becoming prime minister – the UK has not yet confronted the scale of the task. Meeting the commitment is a more difficult challenge than responding to the coronavirus crisis or getting Brexit done, and will require transformations in every sector of the UK economy, sustained investment over three decades and substantial changes to everyone’s lives. The report says a lack of co-ordinated policies, constant changes of direction, a failure to gain public consent for measures and too little engineering expertise and delivery capability has left the UK well off track to meet its target. The absence of a comprehensive plan for achieving net zero has deterred private sector investment and left people unsure of how to act. It calls on government to publish a clear plan setting out, sector by sector, how emissions reductions will be achieved and when decisions will be made where technology is uncertain. The Cabinet Office should be made responsible for co-ordinating the plan and holding departments to account for delivery.

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