41.Climate Assembly UK (CAUK) identified that, after public engagement, ‘fairness’ was the second most important principle which should underpin the transition to net zero, both in terms of the distribution of impacts, and the contribution that different groups are expected to make towards the target. The CAUK report emphasised the need for: fairness “including for the most vulnerable ([in terms of] affordability, jobs, UK regions, incentives and rewards)”; a joined-up approach across society, where everyone plays their part; and fairness to be delivered “in actions, not just words”.
42.The importance of fairness was reiterated throughout the CAUK report. Several sector-specific recommendations called for Government to adopt approaches that will distribute costs fairly, or to make information and support accessible to all, whilst others provided a judgement on what a fair allocation of (or payment for) high carbon resources might look like. The recommendations provide unique insights into what a representative and informed cross-section of the UK public perceives as a fair net zero transition.
43.To fulfil their role in achieving net zero, consumers will have to make many behavioural changes and choices to decarbonise their lifestyles. The CCC has estimated that over 40% of the emissions cuts required to achieve the Sixth Carbon Budget will require some degree of change from consumers (e.g. switching to a low carbon heating system), whilst over 15% will require consumer choices (e.g. changes to diet, reduced air travel, purchasing longer-lasting products). The CCC suggested that this reliance on consumer changes means that:
[f]airness is […] fundamental to public support [for the transition to Net Zero] and must be embedded throughout policy. Only a transition that is perceived as fair, and where people, places and communities are well-supported, will succeed.
44.According to the CCC, if the UK is to put itself on track for the 2050 target, the next 10 years will be critical for the decarbonisation of heating and transportation. Many changes are expected (in the absence of policy intervention) to incur significant costs to the individual, for example, investments to improve the energy efficiency of the home, or switching to electric cars. Rebecca Willis suggested that consumers should not have to make these difficult decisions unaided, and that societal systems, such as the food or transport systems, should be structured so that the low-carbon choice is the easy one to choose. Dr David Joffe, Head of Carbon Budgets at the CCC, agreed and added that people should not become “worse-off through making low-carbon choices”, whilst Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications for the Aldersgate Group, highlighted the need for differentiated support for less affluent households:
when Government and businesses implement their own actions [to decarbonise buildings], there [should be] mindful consideration of how [these are] rolled out to those who are able to pay and those who are not.
45.The Government recognises the necessity of ensuring that the net zero transition is fair. Minister Trevelyan told us that delivering a fair transition was “absolutely fundamental”, and that fairness for consumers was one of the three key goals outlined in the UK Government’s Energy White Paper, which sets out high-level plans to decarbonise the energy sector in line with the net zero target. HM Treasury is currently investigating how to fund the net zero transition, maintain economic growth and ensure the costs will be fairly distributed across society, as part of its Net Zero Review. Both David Joffe and Signe Norberg emphasised that the results of the Net Zero Review will be crucial in ensuring adequate support is made available to ensure fairness throughout the net zero transition. David Joffe stressed that swift publication of a Review containing detailed plans—not just a high-level overview—would be critical for timely decarbonisation of heating in homes, noting that time will be required to conduct engagement processes once the Government’s overarching framework to deliver net zero is in place.
46.The upcoming Net Zero Review is critical in ensuring fairness across society in the transition to net zero. This should be published as a matter of priority to maximise the time available, both, to consult and engage the public and businesses.We recommend that BEIS work closely with HM Treasury to ensure that the Net Zero Review be published as soon as possible, and at the very latest, alongside the Net Zero Strategy, expected in September.
47.The CAUK report identified that strong leadership from Government will be essential for achieving net zero. It called for “clear, proactive, accountable and consistent” leadership, with a cross-party consensus on the path forwards. It further recommended a ‘joined up approach” to net zero across society, and that plans for the transition should include an active role for local authorities, especially when decarbonising energy usage in homes. This was supported by the local government leaders group UK100, who told us that the Government’s net zero framework should guide coordination with local authorities, civil society, and their citizens. David Joffe and Rebecca Willis said that it is also important that this framework caters to the most vulnerable, and protects them in the transition, whether they are engaged with net zero or not.
48.A comprehensive Net Zero Strategy that provides direction on expected policy changes will be essential to deliver coordinated action across Government, local authorities, business and citizens. Signe Norberg advised that this should include clear timelines for the “introduction of policies and mechanisms, innovation programmes, skills development and the alignment of economic and financial policy and infrastructure spending”.
49.Creating a comprehensive and transparent framework will help to build public trust in the measures put forward, and give businesses the confidence to build supply-chains, invest in low-carbon technologies and transition workers’ skills for a net zero future. Investing in net zero infrastructure will also help to nudge these consumer choices towards low-carbon options, and therefore will help the UK reach its 2050 target.
50.If the Government is to succeed in establishing a joined-up approach to net zero with local authorities, business and citizens, it will be essential also to coordinate policymaking across the various Departments involved in the transition. However, select committees have repeatedly concluded that cross-departmental coordination on climate policy is ineffective. The inadequacy of cross departmental coordination across Whitehall in delivering net zero has been brought into sharp focus due to the UK’s Presidency of COP26, and increased focus and scrutiny of Government policy and activity in the run up to the conference itself in November 2021. A series of high-profile reports on net zero governance by the Institute for Government, the NAO, our committee, and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), concur that existing governance arrangements across Whitehall are inadequate to deliver the Government’s own net zero target. This will be the focus of our new inquiry Net Zero Governance launched on 24 June 2021.
51.The Government must ensure that the rationale behind the route to net zero is made clear and is transparent. This is key to earning the trust of both business and citizens, which would, in turn incite positive action across the population. We recommend that the Net Zero Strategy include specific timelines for the implementation of specific policies through to 2050 in order to prepare business, supply chains, and citizens for the changes that will come with achieving net zero. Where there is uncertainty in relation to the implementation of future policies, the Government should provide the dates by which decisions must be made.
52.The Government must also re-double its efforts to lead a joined-up approach to net zero with local authorities, business and citizens. Central to this is improved, co-ordinated policymaking across Whitehall. The inadequacy of cross departmental coordination across Whitehall in delivering net zero has been brought into sharp focus in the context of the UK’s Presidency of COP26, and increased focus on and scrutiny of Government policy and activity in the run up to the conference itself in November 2021. Cross -departmental co-ordination will be the focus of our new inquiry into Net Zero Governance.
76 Examples of CAUK recommendations highlighting the need for fairness include: “ensure solutions [to land travel] are accessible and affordable to all sections of society; “frequent fliers and those that fly further should pay more”; “a need for [home energy] solutions to work for all income groups and housing types”. Climate Assembly UK, (10 September 2020) p 14, p 16, p 18
77 IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) ()
78 The Sixth Carbon Budget, required under the Climate Change Act, is the UK’s target emission reductions between the years 2030–2035.
79 Climate Change Committee, (December 2020), p70
80 Climate Change Committee, The Sixth Carbon Budget: The UK’s path the net zero (December 2020), p 14
81 [David Joffe]
82 Climate Change Committee, (May 2019)
83 Department for Transport: Government takes historic step towards net-zero with end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, November 2020
84 [Rebecca Willis]
85 [David Joffe]
87 For example: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Energy White Paper: Powering our Net Zero Future, , December 2020; HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Strategy, , November 2020; HM Treasury, Net Zero Review: terms of reference, November 2020
89 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Energy White Paper: Powering our Net Zero Future, , December 2020, p 4
90 HM Treasury, , accessed 21 June 2021
94 UK100 ()
95 [David Joffe],
98 [David Joffe]
99 For example, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Fourteenth Report of Session 2017–19, Electric vehicles: driving the transition, HC 383, para74; Environmental Audit Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2017–19, Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, HC 826, para 32
100 Institute for Government, Net Zero: how government can meet its climate change target, September 2020; Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report, Achieving Net Zero, Session 2019–21, HC 1035, December 2020, para 2.9–2.10; Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Third Report of Session 2019–21, , HC 1265; Committee of Public Accounts, Forty-Sixth Report for Session 2019–21, Achieving Net Zero, HC 935, para 8–10
101 Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee,