Government’s net zero strategy a “genuine step forward” but gaps remain – CCC

The UK’s climate advisor has praised government plans to cut carbon emissions but called for detailed plans on how some ambitions would be achieved.

Photo: Creative Commons

The net zero strategy sets out how ministers intend to halve UK emissions in just over a decade and reach net zero by 2050.

It was published last week, just days before the government hosts COP26 international climate talks in Glasgow.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) responded this morning with its independent assessment, describing the strategy as a “genuine step forward” but “not the end of the road”. There remained a risk that planning or policy decisions could “blow the Net Zero Strategy off course”, it said.

Lord Deben, the CCC’s chairman, said:

“It is an achievable, affordable plan that will bring jobs, investment and wider benefits to the UK. It is also a strong example to bring to the COP26 summit of how to follow climate change targets with action.”

“The UK was the first major industrialised nation to set Net Zero into law – now we have policy plans to get us there. As we welcome world leaders to COP26 in Glasgow, that is an important statement.

Lord Deben said:

“Ministers have made the big decisions – to decarbonise the power sector by 2035, to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles, to back heat pumps for homes. And they have proposed policies to do it. I applaud their ambition.

“Now they must deliver these goals and fill in the remaining gaps in funding and implementation. My Committee will hold their feet to the fire, as we are required to under the Climate Change Act. This is the UK’s climate governance working as it should.”


The CCC said commitments in the net zero strategy were “broadly aligned” to its advice to government in December 2020. It said:

“Overall the strategy’s ambitions align to the UK’s emissions targets of Net Zero by 2050 anda 78% reduction from 1990 to 2035.”

The CCC welcomed:

  • Government ambitions for a fully decarbonised power sector by 2035
  • Phase-out of fossil fuels from surface transport, home heating and much of industry beginning without delay
  • Proposed deployment levels of low-carbon options, such as offshore wind, low-carbon hydrogen production, carbon capture, electric cars, heat pumps, energy efficiency and tree planting for the next 15 years – this would deliver the carbon budgets
  • Proposals for scaling up private investment in almost every area of the economy, including contract auctions for renewable power, a zero-emission vehicle mandate, obligation on boiler manufacturers to grow the heat pump market, grants and contracts for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen use.
  • Strong proposals on innovation and engaging business, on governance, local delivery and on skills to delivering net zero nation


The CCC was concerned about a lack of plans or vague proposals in some areas. It said:

“The Strategy is not the end of the road, however. There are some strategic gaps, as well as uncertainties over how the Government’s ambitions will be delivered in some sectors”.

The CCC was concerned about:

  • Plans to tackle emissions from agriculture are still unclear – there needs to be “a credible strategy” integrated with the challenges for how we use land and soil
  • Plans to deliver a major scale-up of the heat pump market in UK homes remain at an early stage.
  • Commitments to remove price distortions that favour gas over electricity cannot be delayed
  • Currently vague plans must be quickly pinned down for improving home energy efficiency for the 60% of UK households that are owner-occupiers but not in fuel poverty.
  • Insufficient action currently proposed on public engagement
  • No explicit ambition on diet change, or reductions in the growth of aviation
  • Policies for managing travel demand have not been developed to match committed funding
  • No full Net Zero test has been developed across government

The CCC said:

“The risk remains of policy or planning decisions being made that are incompatible with a Net Zero UK and could blow the Net Zero Strategy off course.”

The CCC added that the Treasury’s Net Zero Review had not followed through on decisions about major policy challenges.

“it remains unclear how the Treasury will use the tax system to support the transition to Net Zero, or how it will fill the fiscal gap implied by falling fuel duties.

“These gaps should now be addressed and the strong proposals in the Net Zero Strategy must move through consultation and policy development into implementation as quickly as possible.”

7 replies »

  1. “There are some strategic gaps, as well as uncertainties over how the Government’s ambitions will be delivered in some sectors”. You can say that again. Questioned by Jon Snow on the Channel 4 News on the 25th., Greg Hands, the ironically styled Energy and Clean Growth Minister responded to a question as to whether Johnson’s stated policy was compatible with his actions and intentions concerning the controversial Cumbrian coalmine with a dismissive statement to the effect that the Cumbrian coalmine was a “small and quite exceptional case”.
    The CCC must indeed hold Johnson’s feet to the fire. Would that other sectors of public life had already effectively done so.

  2. Yes, Johnson should have his feet roasted about whether the reduction in transport emissions is being fully addressed. Especially when the same Channel 4 pontificated that Cornish lithium would be a benefit-including via the reduction in transport emissions compared to some over the horizon sources. (Not certain whether the Cornish residents agree, but, hey ho, what is a bit more collateral damage.)

    Sauce for both the goose and the gander helps get the best from roasting.

  3. Oil price rising, Gas prices through the roof… COP26 away to kick off!!
    Cows farts are scientifically deemed to be causing climate change!

    But we as humans, are over populated, and we have scourged the earth for 1,000’s of years to develop a life style, now one in which we want smartphones, cheap food, heating, cooking and sunny destination holidays!

    But it’s all too little too late, but point fingers from the greener, than green parties, and blaming companies and individuals in your taking the earth for granted! Is virtue-signalling woke agenda is petty and will not allow the necessary to sit at the table, I imagine the COP26 protests next week will be akin to holding a global concert to remedying world hunger and poverty!
    That ain’t gonna fly!

    • Not quite sure what you’re getting at Eli-Goth but I’m guessing you’re objecting to those, like me, who attribute our present sorry state to our own greed and who are now trying to do something about it whilst trying to deter those who are unbothered by our/their behaviour and therefore seek to continue it.
      If so, then where do you attribute the responsibility? It surely isn’t just the poor cows?

  4. Oh, I blame those who campaign against projects that could actually help in respect of climate change eg. against local sourcing and therefor increasing transport emissions, and against HS2 therefor increasing transport emissions some more. Too many who want to campaign but can not grasp the simple truth that if “something has to be done” then perhaps embrace the something rather than just campaign against because it is not your something, and something has to be there to campaign against. Even if that is too difficult, then perhaps do not try and produce false excuses for doing so, and trying to deflect responsibility upon others.

    If that is you, 1720, and your posts indicate it is, then it is pretty evident that the responsibility for being part of the problem is clear. And, on greed, I do not agree that those land owners were plonking wind turbines on their land because they were activists for the environment, but many were simply greedily pocketing the £100k plus net profit per year per wind turbine that was guaranteed no matter what electricity was generated. Neither do I believe Cash for Ash was anything but a money making scam for the greedy, that had the added cost to millions of no legislation to improve their lives for years following. And, kids in the DRC becoming ill from handling a known carcinogen, cobalt, to supply the EV market, is nothing but greed. “Strangely”, I have yet to see any campaigning against such renewable greed demonstrated on this site.

  5. Oh yes it is.

    HS2 needs to be seen in the context of what it will save. That is extra motorway capacity and internal flights. France has put such into practice, and whilst UK are late, it is no excuse not to try and catch up.

    Local transport systems are happening. It is not a case of either/or. Local transport systems do not get anyone from one end of the country to the other. That is just deviation.

    Equations will not balance if you leave half of the calculation out. If the equation is done correctly it is clear cut.

    I have sympathy with Nimbys who object to HS2. They have a real case. The rest is nonsense and tired nonsense at that. Same was suggested by a few regarding the Newbury bypass, including at least one who is now active in respect of HS2. I lived in Newbury. It was nonsense to all locals but some media tried to produce the unbalanced equation then, even suggesting there were alternatives! Please, advise the alternative to the A34 the locals asked. The reply? None .Please advise the carbon emissions from crawling and stationary traffic compared to traffic flowing freely the locals asked. The reply? None.

    Heaven forbid that some media are still trotting (oops) out the same tired nonsense.

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