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Jack Bain looks at the government’s ‘greenprint’ to help decarbonise the nation

In an important development for the government's plans to decarbonise, last week saw the release of the UK's 'Greenprint' for a complete transformation of domestic transportation to achieve our Net Zero 2050 aspirations.

This 'Greenprint' provides some much-needed clarity; up to now we have heard a lot about the finish line - Net Zero 2050 - but not a lot about the path to achieving this, or what milestones there are along the journey.

Indeed, if you read through the 'Summary of commitments' section (pages 11 through 13) you will find a list of more than 60 commitments that relate to the decarbonisation of domestic transportation, ranging from 'the aim that half of all journeys in towns and cities will be cycled or walked by 2030' to the promise to ' lead by example with 25% of the Government car fleet ultra-low emission by December 2022 and 100% of the Government car and van fleet zero emission by 2027'.

Although a significant step in the right direction, this 'Greenprint' is far from perfect ...

We must make changes now if we hope to realise our Net Zero aspirations

Jack Bain Jack Bain Member of the Sustainability Team

Hitting reality

Of particular note is a specific focus on new diesel and petrol lorries, which will be banned in Britain by 2040, a move that has been called a 'blue skies aspiration ahead of real-life reality' and could add huge costs to an already struggling industry.

In other areas we see a disappointing vagueness remain in the commitments that have been made - a good example being under 'Accelerating aviation decarbonisation' where many of the promises start with the words 'We will consult on...', 'We will aim to agree' or 'We will support', without providing even estimates on what these could look like.

The reason I use the words 'step in the right direction' is because despite there still being unanswered questions in some areas, our map for understanding what the 29-year-long road to a Net Zero UK economy in 2050 looks like becomes clearer with each subsequent plan.

Complex systems

Sustainability is a nuanced and complicated issue, compounded by the entrenched and complex systems that we already have in place.

Perhaps it is not the comprehensive certainty that we would like to have, but I for one am glad to see proactive continuous improvement that provides us more and more information year on year, instead of reactively waiting until we have all the answers.

2050 is a long way away, but real transformation takes time, and we must make changes now if we hope to realise our Net Zero aspirations.

Jack Bain is a member of the Sustainability Team