Following our recent explainer on the UK’s recent Energy White Paper and in the run-up to COP26, we thought it would be a good idea to detail the measures set out under the UK Government’s new Net Zero Strategy.
Published by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, sets out the policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet our net-zero target by 2050. However, whether these policies are truly sufficient to facilitate a transition to net-zero is being questioned.
The plan covers a wide variety of areas and will lead to fundamental changes within UK society, some notable measures are as follows:
Regardless of what you think of this Government’s green record, the plan does mark an important milestone. While previous Governments could simply align themselves with the green agenda through rhetoric, this is the first time a detailed collection of policies to transform our economy has been expected. But, whether it is ultimately enough to reach net-zero remains to be seen, as it will take time to establish whether this policy portfolio truly represents a plausible pathway to net zero by 2050.
Many argue the Government is trying to have their cake and eat it, by continuing with policies that will allow emissions to grow even as they insist we are heading to net-zero. With projects such as HS2, the new Cumbria coal mine, the construction of £27bn worth of new roads, and the issuing of new North Sea fossil fuel licenses contradicting the green narrative.
Environmentalists are also frustrated that the plan omits any mention of eating less meat or limiting how often we fly, with a recent research paper from BEIS advocating for such measures immediately deleted after publication.
There is also minimal detail on how the measures included in the Net Zero Strategy can be funded and how it can be done in a fair and equitable manner. Critically, the plan also fails to detail how much carbon savings the measures discussed are projected to deliver, somewhat undermining the credibility of its claims of leading to net-zero by 2050.
So while the Net Zero Strategy is a positive step in the right direction and positions the UK as a world leader in climate policy, serious questions remain. For many, the plan represents a missed opportunity, who argue that given the timing of the Strategy and the UK’s position as host of the upcoming COP26 conference, a more radical set of proposals could have set a new global precedent.