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Achieving net zero – how can we turn targets into reality?

The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) – a group developed to advise the government on emissions targets – has published its latest report to Parliament, confirming that the UK is only likely to deliver one-fifth of the emissions reductions needed by 2035

Although the Government recently adopted a new Sixth Carbon Budget - which provides recommendations to help limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted - the UK is already lagging on achieving the previous targets set by the Committee. Because of this, the CCC has highlighted the urgent need for progressing key policies that have been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the Government expected to announce a new all-encompassing Net Zero Strategy in the autumn, the CCC says it is critical that this new strategy is published before the COP26 climate summit, with clear policy plans, and backed fully by the UK Treasury. 

So, what exactly needs to be done?

The Committee has highlighted the need for strong government leadership, underpinned by a solid strategy for achieving Net Zero.

Key issues that must be faced include:

  • A Net Zero Test that would ensure all Government policy, including planning decisions, align with UK climate targets.
  • An ambitious Heat and Buildings Strategy that works for everyday consumers, like you and I.
  • The urgent delivery of delayed plans on surface transport, aviation, hydrogen, biomass and food.
  • Strengthened plans for the power sector, industrial decarbonisation, the North Sea, peat and energy from waste.
  • Tackling the big cross-cutting challenges of public engagement, fair funding and local delivery.

How will this be achieved?

Commenting on the report, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said:  

“We are in the decisive decade for tackling climate change. The Government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP 26 the world will look for delivery, not promises.”

To achieve such strong delivery and become a global leader in the worldwide fight against climate change, the UK will need bright minds, fresh perspectives, and passionate people to step up to the challenge.

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