Achieving net-zero will require a concerted national effort, according to a report published by the National Audit Office (NAO).
In June 2019, the government passed legislation committing it to achieve ‘net-zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Between 2008 and 2018, the UK’s emissions reduced by 28%, but according to the NAO without further action, the country’s emissions are projected to exceed the government’s targets for the years 2023- 2027.
Even though the government has announced plans to reduce emissions, according to the report, even faster progress is going to be needed by 2050, including changes to the way electricity is generated, how people travel, how land is used and how buildings are heated.
Due to the all-encompassing nature of net-zero, the authors of the report highlight that all government bodies will have a role to play, however, despite this the government has not clearly set out the roles of public bodies outside of central departments.
The report also highlights that work needs to be done to ensure that all public sector organisations take the actions necessary to reduce their own emissions.
In 2018, public sector buildings emitted 8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, representing 9% of all emissions in the building sector. To date, central government departments have reduced emissions from their buildings and operations by an estimated 46%, but targets have not covered significant areas of impact outside of central government, like schools and the NHS.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO said: ‘Government wants the UK to be a global leader in tackling climate change and achieving net-zero is key to its ambitions.
‘While emissions have reduced steadily in recent years, achieving net-zero is an enormously challenging long-term project, which will require well-thought-out cross-government coordination to drive unprecedented changes across society and the economy.
‘Government needs to step up to the challenge, ensuring it has a clear strategy to achieve its goal and accurately monitoring progress. It will have to reach outside of Whitehall and bring together the public sector, industry and all of us as citizens in a coordinated national effort spanning decades.’
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