Achieving Net Zero Contents


In June 2019, government committed in law to achieving ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, requiring the UK’s emissions in 2050 to be equal to or less than what is removed from the atmosphere by either the natural environment or carbon capture technologies. This target aims to deliver on the commitments it had made by signing the Paris Agreement in 2016. Net zero is an increase in ambition from the government’s previous target, set in 2008, to reduce net emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. Reducing emissions further to achieve net zero is a colossal challenge, requiring wide-ranging changes to the UK economy and to the way we all live our lives. This includes further investment in renewable electricity generation, as well as changing the way people travel, how land is used and how buildings are heated. The all-encompassing nature of achieving net zero means that organisations across central and local government, as well as the public, all have a role to play. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (the Department) has overall responsibility for achieving net zero. It also has lead responsibility for decarbonising many of the highest-emitting sectors of the economy, such as power and industry. The Department must work with the Devolved Administrations and other departments, such as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for Transport, which each hold responsibility for decarbonisation in their respective policy areas. Progress has not been uniform and whilst emissions from power have declined by 62% between 2008–2018, surface transport emissions have declined by only 3% over the same time period. HM Treasury has a key role to play given it allocates budgets to government departments and is central to assessing the relative priority of policies across government and in ensuring departments have the funding needed for programmes to reduce emissions.

Published: 5 March 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement