In this Executive Summary from the Government ’ s recently released Net Zero Strategy , policymakers outline what underpins the plans for the way forward and the results of the Ten Point Plan ahead of the upcoming COP26 summit .
What is net zero and why do we need to act ?
From heating our homes to filling up our cars , burning fossil fuels releases the greenhouses gases that increase global temperatures . We are already seeing the effects here in the UK , with devastating floods in the West Midlands in January and torrential downpours submerging London Underground stations earlier this summer .
People are rightly concerned , with the latest IPCC report showing that if we fail to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels , the floods and fires we have seen around the world this year will get more frequent and more fierce , crops will be more likely to fail , and sea levels will rise driving mass migration as millions are forced from their homes . Above 1.5 ° C we risk reaching climatic tipping points like the melting of arctic permafrost – releasing millennia of stored greenhouse gases – meaning we could lose control of our climate for good .
But the good news is that there is , still , a path to avoid catastrophic climate change . The science could not be clearer : by the middle of this century the world has to reduce emissions to as close to zero as possible , with the small amount of remaining emissions absorbed through natural carbon sinks like forests , and new technologies like carbon capture . If we can achieve this , global emissions of greenhouse gases will be ‘ net zero ’.
Delivering this requires urgent global action , including ending coal fired power generation , retiring petrol and diesel engines from all cars , and halting deforestation . These are the steps that the UK is calling for at COP26 , the global climate change talks in Glasgow next month .
Why should the UK act first ? Since 1990 the UK has almost halved our greenhouse gas emissions . Thanks to the efforts of successive governments , we are almost half-way to ending the UK ’ s domestic contribution to man-made climate change , and in 2019 the UK became the first major economy in the world to legislate to finish the job with a binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 .
We are proud to lead the world in ending our own contribution to climate change , not just because it is the right thing to do , but because we are determined to seize the unprecedented economic opportunity it brings . We want to build back better from the pandemic by building back greener and levelling up our country with new high skilled , high wage , sustainable jobs in every part of our United Kingdom .
Removing dirty fossil fuels will require the transformation of every sector of the global economy . It means no longer burning fossil fuels for power or heating ; it means new ways of making concrete , cement , steel ; it means the end of the petrol and diesel engine . These changes are already beginning to happen . Renewable energy is now the cheapest source of power across two-thirds of the globe . Clean , cheap power is already driving the decarbonisation of heavy industry around the world . Almost all major car companies are now developing or producing zero emissions vehicles as battery technology improves and costs reduce .
The question is whether the new clean machinery of the net zero future will be “ made elsewhere ” or “ made in Britain ”. By moving first , the UK can get ahead of the pack and make the birthplace of the industrial revolution the home of the new Green Industrial Revolution .
Indeed , as we produce more of our own electricity – from wind farms in the North Sea and state-of-the-art British nuclear reactors – families will be much better protected from energy price spikes caused by volatile international fossil fuel markets . At the same time , by getting ahead of the curve