Economics – New “Net Zero” Strategy Announced

Date : 20 October 2021

With two weeks to go before COP26 conference in Glasgow, the Prime Minister has launched the UK government’s new “Net Zero” strategy, which builds on previous policy documents.

This strategy sets out how the UK will achieve “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which is the legally-binding target date.

The government is evidently keen to position the plan as an exciting opportunity for businesses, stressing the need for the UK to lead in the development of new, sustainable technologies.

Movement towards new technology is also seen as reducing vulnerability to energy supply “shocks”, a concern for business leaders at present. For citizens, the creation of new, well-paid and high-quality jobs is emphasized.

The strategy emphasizes the role that government itself will play, but this ambitious project will inevitably impact businesses, including those in the food and consumer goods supply chain (many of which are already moving to reduce their climate-change impact).

Key policies impacting the industry will include, amongst others:

  • De-carbonising industry – A range of strategies will be used to reduce industrial GHG emissions, including switching to hydrogen fuel, increasing material / energy efficiency and extending product lives (p125-131).
  • Food production – 75% of UK farmers to be engaged in low-carbon farming practices by 2030, supported by the Farming Investment Fund and the Farming Innovation Programme (p171 and p175).
  • Sequestration - Accelerated afforestation and peat restoration, to increase carbon sequestration – with impacts on land use and possibly food production (p177-178).
  • Transport - Large scale trial of zero-emission HGV technologies, with sale of new fossil fuel-driven HGVs likely to be banned by 2040. Further research into zero-emission sea and air freight.
  • Waste – Funding for free food waste collection from all UK households from 2025 and Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging materials (p179).

The new Net Zero strategy will also intersect with the government’s strategies for agriculture and food production (news on the latter is expected in early 2022).

IGD has worked with consultancy South pole to create a new document intended to help businesses plan their journey to Net Zero. This can be downloaded here.