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Net Zero - a systems perspective on the climate challenge

net zero a systems perspective on the climate challenge

A factfile from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the National Engineering Policy Centre.

In May 2019 the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its report outlining the technical feasibility of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.1 On 27 June the UK government enshrined this target into law.

The UK has less than 1,600 weeks to meet the target of net zero territorial emissions; it is a massive undertaking. It will involve the simultaneous transformation of several vital, interconnected infrastructure systems: from transport and housing, to energy and manufacturing. It requires developing whole new industries to maturity and supporting sweeping societal, cultural, behavioural and structural change. A strong government-led vision for 2050 is needed now to drive coordinated, achievable action across all parts of society and government, with urgency and ambition.

The net-zero target is ambitious, and the nation is currently not on track to meet this 2050 target. A step-change in policies, practices and behaviours is required to address the challenge of net-zero territorial emissions. ‘Net zero’ means that every sector, even those that are difficult to decarbonise, must now plan for rapid decarbonisation.