In June last year, the UK Parliament passed new
legislation on the advice of the Committee on Climate
Change, which I chair. It commits the UK to reduce
its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The
pledges which have followed signal a clear ambition from
local authorities, businesses and academic institutions to
come together to help meet this vital goal.
Targets alone, however, are only an intention. They
require policies, informed by the best available evidence,
largely set by government, to deliver the UK’s net zero
transition over the next 30 years. The scale of action, and
the level of coordination that entails across the public
and private sectors, is challenging. Achieving net zero is
a must for our planet, but the shift away from fossil fuels
will also modernise our economy, and bring cleaner air,
more nutritious diets, new industries, and jobs.
There is much work to do. Industries and businesses
must have long-term signals that encourage them to
invest in zero-carbon options. Partnerships will be
needed across industry, academia, government and the
third sector to ensure new skills are developed to create
a net zero compatible workforce. Similar collaboration
is needed to deliver innovative solutions to some of the
thorniest challenges we face, such as how to capture and
store large amounts of CO2.
Involving the public in the many changes ahead is
critical. The net zero transition will not go unnoticed as
we shift to lower-carbon forms of heating in our homes,
as we opt for electric rather than petrol and diesel
vehicles, as we choose to walk and cycle more.
That all begins this year, in the year of climate
action. The private sector, academia, NGOs and
government must come together to ensure that the UK’s
leadership on climate change is clear as we host the
pivotal UN Climate Summit in November in Glasgow.
is is our chance to show the world that we are serious
about righting the wrongs of the past. It’s an opportunity
we must seize.