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Sensitive intervention points to achieve net-zero emissions (Sixth Carbon Budget Policy Advisory Group)

1. Outline

Alongside our work on the Sixth Carbon Budget the Climate Change Committee (CCC) convened an expert policy advisory group to provide input on how cross-sectoral policy can complement the CCC’s existing approach to policy advice. The group was chaired by Professor Cameron Hepburn, and consisted of:

  • Tera Allas
  • Laura Cozzi
  • Michael Liebreich
  • Jim Skea
  • Lorraine Whitmarsh
  • Giles Wilkes
  • Bryony Worthington.

The remit of the advisory group was to think beyond sectoral targets and to suggest cross-cutting, top-down views of how policy could accelerate progress towards achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. The group had three meetings between July and September 2020.

2. Key recommendations

The group concluded that the transition to Net Zero can and will occur, and will leave a positive legacy for future generations. They examined the UK as a complex adaptive system and identified recommendations for accelerating progress and reducing the risks of failure. The Group recognised an opportunity for Sensitive Intervention Points (SIPs) coinciding with these recommendations, pointing to opportunities to accelerate a transition towards Net Zero by exploiting socio-economic tipping points.

These included:

  • Deepening public engagement through investments to support measures to lower ‘thresholds’ to behavioural change, such as energy efficiency or dietary alternatives. This can form part of a public engagement strategy for Net Zero that educates the public, involves people in decision-making and provides trusted information at key decision points
  • Delivering social justice via a clear long-term vision for specific regions coupled with mechanisms that reward the private sector for building industries in otherwise deprived areas, starting now
  • Government leading on Net Zero by requiring any company meeting with ministers and secretaries of state to have a plan to reach net zero emissions
  • Leveraging global dynamics by introducing a border carbon adjustment, and consider forming bilateral and multilateral preferential trading arrangements for environmental goods and services
  • Penalising emissions by committing in the UK’s NDC to sequester 10% of CO2 emissions generated by fossil fuels and industry by 2030
  • Increasing business ambition by identifying businesses that shape industries – celebrate and elevate them
  • Accelerating technology via Pathfinder cities that can deliver comprehensive steps towards Net Zero, and demonstrate the interactions required across complex systems of low-carbon electricity, heat and transport
  • Redirecting capital flows by introducing Net zero aligned and transparent accounting and auditing
  • Harnessing legal avenues by legislating all regulators to regard the Paris Agreement, Sixth Carbon Budget and 2050 Net Zero target in their duties.