Government has “no reliable cost” for net zero transition – MPs

An influential group of MPs has accused the government of having no clear plan for funding the transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

Electric car at COP26, November 2021. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which scrutinises government spending, said there was no reliable estimate of the cost of the net zero policy.

The government published its net zero strategy in October 2021. This included policies for 100% of clean electricity by 2035, targets for hydrogen production and sustainable aviation, grants for heat pumps and an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

But a new report from the PAC this morning criticised ministers for vague performance measures, a lack of overall budget and a limited assessment of how much net zero measures will cost consumers. It said:

“To publish policy without commensurate funding merely amounts to an aspiration not a real intention by government.”

The report said the government was relying on consumers to change their behaviour rapidly. But there was uncertainty about whether this would happen.

The net zero strategy also relied heavily on private investment. But the committee said government had a poor record of providing investor confidence.

There was also a risk that policies to drive down emissions in the UK might increase emissions elsewhere, the committee said.

The PAC raised concerns about a lack of skills in the private sector and civil service to deliver net zero. And it criticised government’s “apparent lack of urgency” in explaining how local authorities would be involved in delivering the strategy.

“government has too often pursued stop-start strategies which undermine confidence for business, investors and consumers in committing to measures which would reduce carbon emissions – especially when some green alternatives are still significantly more expensive than current options.”

The committee’s chair, Dame Meg Hillier, said:

“Government is relying heavily on rapidly changing consumer behaviours and technological innovations to drive down the costs of green options, but it is not clear how it will support and encourage consumers to purchase greener products or incentivise businesses and drive change.

“Every government department has a responsibility for delivering policies towards the target of net zero but two years after enshrining the ‘Net Zero’ by 2050 target in law, the government has unveiled a plan without answers to the key questions of how it will fund the transition to net zero – including how it replace significant income from taxes such as fuel duty.”

She said the net zero strategy required government, regulators, business and consumers to work together.

“A top-down strategy from government won’t deliver on its own. There is a risk that a series of disconnected initiatives announced by central government will not bring about the changes that are now set out in law.”


The PAC called on government to set out detailed measures to:

  • Track, report and scrutinise progress on implementing net zero policies
  • Monitor consumer take-up relative to expectations
  • Check how quickly technology costs fell and how much private investment was attracted
  • Set out the role of local authorities in achieving net zero
  • Increase public awareness of consumption emissions

Friends of the Earth has the go-ahead for a High Court challenge to the UK government’s Net Zero and Homes and Buildings Strategies

5 replies »

  1. As I have previously stated. The country has been signed up to something that is life changing, without consultation. The costs will be born by individuals, but they haven’t been told what they are.

    All very well and good, until every individual starts to see what is expected of them and what the costs are. So, let’s start with one of the few things that has been put forward-heat pumps. An offer made to support installation. Will it go anywhere near for many people? Nope. I have checked costings with installers to go full monty for my own situation. It would at best only cover half the cost, and would not provide the same benefits I currently enjoy. Sorry, KatT, but that is my situation. Yours may be different.

    I could go on into the motoring sector. There it is even worse. Current alternatives far more expensive, even though seriously subsidized, which will be removed. Other forms of motoring already being cost penalized to make them more expensive so the alternatives will not look too much more expensive! Still absolutely no indication as to how the £20-£30 billion per year hole in fuel duty revenue will be filled. Probably by charging per journey, but how? The costs and implications of that are extremely questionable. But zilch on that. Of course, that whole issue could be removed by simply going to hydrogen rather than electric, but hush my mouth, Governments are always right about the fuel for motorists to use, aren’t they??? Like diesel!

    So, the two biggest areas for most individuals, and no clarity, and no costs that are robust.

    Houston, “we” have a problem. And, no, stating the end of the world is neigh if people do not follow blindly, is not enough. The end of their world will be neigh in not too many more years hence, and the majority will be concerned as to how they may enjoy their years until then. Neither will the “doing it for my grandchildren” bit stick, if the grandchildren then find all their inheritance has been spent. Chickens and roosting come to mind-they do come home eventually.

  2. What I want to know is why we are still importing oil and gas from around the world with the carbon footprint that it involves when we have the stuff under our feet!!

    • 100% Paul, The minority who preach they are carbon neutral and shouted climate emergency after Greta and the Scientists discussed Climate Disaster and Started their activist they have flocked many followers.. Social Media is full of a lot of links and contradictions many of the contributors on DorD have been pushing! The real story is ‘Why not Prospect our Resources’ is always challenges by a resounding NO! Why is that you think?, Greed has been discussed, But they buy Shell, BP, Total fuels, Equinor fertilisers. I bet those who have green fingers their garden fence kerosote and use weed killers… Gas is the transition fuel we all use and cannot do without, although many will tell you that we have wind turbines, (those birds of prey mashers), tidal turbines and many other renewable’s. But these do not create a byproducts and you cannot create human consumer products from them. As Martin has mentioned until we have and understanding what the TRUE cost of the Energy Transition is ‘I WILL KEEP MY FOSSIL FUEL LIFESTYLE’ while we still have an energy industry in the UK!
      AS once this energy industry has been dismantled, mothballed, employees fire and laid-off, rigs sunk, pipelines emptied, and this industry is gone its is not easily rebuilt! #webettergetfracking

  3. Exactly Paul:

    “There was also risk that policies to drive down emissions in the UK might increase emissions elsewhere, the committee said.”

    There is no “might”. It is current and it is reality. Goodness, even Greta commented adversely upon it some while ago.

    When that sack (poke) is opened up, not a pig, not even empty, but full of something nasty. Buyer beware.

  4. A good example of the nonsense spouted around this in HoC today. The chap who had issues with a bacon sandwich was talking about cheap energy and nuclear in the same sentence! Yet, only a few years ago unwilling to support more investment in nuclear.

    Please direct me to cheap nuclear. Where is it? Does it exist? Nope. Maybe SMRs will be a candidate, but there are none developed and costed yet.

    What is the reason for this nonsense? Because “cheap” renewable energy can not be linked to expensive nuclear-which is the reality-so nonsense is required.

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