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Independent Assessment: The UK’s Net Zero Strategy

1. Outline

The UK’s new Net Zero Strategy sets out, for the first time, how the UK Government plans to deliver its emissions targets of Net Zero in 2050 and a 78% reduction from 1990 to 2035 (-63% relative to 2019). It puts forward an achievable and affordable vision that will bring net benefits to the UK.

Our overall assessment is that it is an ambitious and comprehensive strategy that marks a significant step forward for UK climate policy, setting a globally leading benchmark to take to COP26. Further steps will need to follow quickly to implement the policies and proposals mapped out in the Net Zero Strategy if it is to be a success.

2. Key messages

The key strengths of the strategy are its ambition and its scope:

  • Ambition. The ambition in the Strategy aligns to the UK’s emissions targets.
  • Cross-cutting policies. We are pleased that the Net Zero Strategy begins to set out how the Government will tackle some of the major cross-cutting challenges involved in the transition.
  • Sector policies. Across the economy the Government has proposed, or begun to implement, credible mechanisms to drive delivery and rapidly scale-up private investment.
  • Implementation. Some of the policies for delivering the UK’s ambitions are already in operation.

For the Strategy to be a success, however, key issues will need to be resolved quickly.

  • Sector policies. Few details have been set out for delivery mechanisms in the agriculture sector – a combined decarbonisation strategy for agriculture and land is urgently needed.
  • Enabling policies. The Government has not yet put forward plans for a Net Zero Test, as we had recommended, to ensure that all policy and planning decisions are consistent with the path to Net Zero.
  • Demand measures. There is less emphasis on the demand side than in the Committee’s scenarios.