I don’t know about you, but I was quite excited when Chris Skidmore MP launched his ‘Mission Zero – An independent review of net zero’ on the 20th January.
I know its over 300 pages long and I know the headlines were taken up with the politics of it all, but for me, it is a significant step in the right direction and shows that there are real opportunities, as well as challenges in tackling climate change.
Over the next few weeks, I plan to go through the report chapter by chapter and try and summarise the important pointers and findings.
I’d like to start with an overview of how we got to this point.
Since setting the target, we’re over 11% of the way to 2050 and there is still an awful lot to do!
Why do we need this report?
The first thing to say is that I have literally never seen more acronyms in one document before. I know each industry and sector generates its own ‘language’, but this report also needs its own dictionary!
I’d like to start by asking the question ‘Why was this document needed?’
This is simply because of the lack of progress on providing a suitable landscape for the nation to achieve net zero within the legally binding commitment period that we have all signed up to.
The document aims to succinctly summarise each individual area that needs regulatory intervention to ensure we remain on track for our 2050 targets.
It also seeks to highlight the opportunities that net zero presents the UK and aims to provide a platform for industry and consumers to explain their individual barriers and for the review to come up with tangible ways to overcome or mitigate them.
Expert opinion and greenwash
This single document brings together the results of many individual reports, industry guidelines and government published data, together with their direct relation to achieving net zero highlighted and discussed.
The Review is also seeking to map out a practical way forward, and to do this it is looking at how we remove some of the rhetoric and greenwashing that is currently rife.
I’ve written before about our own ‘Lean, Mean, Green’ philosophy and how this now needs to include ‘Seen’ as companies are being obliged to do more than just make positive noises about the environment (greenwash), they actually have to demonstrate what their plans are and how they are implementing them.
And this is sound thinking because unless we can provide a factual basis for a reasoned and serious conversation in parliament and beyond – with appropriate facts, figures and predictions, then we will struggle to make much progress and agree the important steps that must be taken.
This affects everything
The sheer scale of the areas that net zero affects is staggering and achieving it will take significant effort on everyone’s part, from you as an individual, to us as a nation.
No wonder it is seen as a difficult challenge to achieve as it literally does affect everything!
We recently published a free, CPD Guide on the sustainable building landscape, and this outlines how there isn’t one policy or guidance document that covers all bases. Getting anywhere near to net zero means looking at the overlaps, duplications and missing areas in both policy and guidance.
Net zero is the ultimate optimisation of this problem as there are so many different policy areas and fundamental economic decisions which when framed in a country-wide scale seem too complicated or too difficult to change from the way things are now.
Obviously, this needs to change and one of the reasons why this report is so long is that it tries to cover all of these and provide strategies to break through each individual challenge.
6 Pillars for success
The report is broken down into six individual pillars, with each outlining the challenges and opportunities in that area and providing suggestions and solutions to ensure that these opportunities are realised. I will aim to provide a brief summary of each in subsequent articles.
- Securing Net Zero
- Powering Net Zero
- Net Zero & the Economy
- Net Zero & the community
- Net Zero & the individual
- Net Zero & the future
For now though, let me leave you with a few of the choice quotes from the report which for me, summarise why this is all so important.
It’s worth remembering that while 42 months have gone since the UK signed the legally binding commitment to achieving net zero by 2050, there are now just 324 months left …
and there is an awful lot to do!
“This is too important to get wrong”.
“Half the world’s leading institutions and 40% of companies have made net zero pledges”
“Almost half of the policies in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy rely on personal action”
For me, the last quote is actually why everyone should take the time to properly read and digest this important piece of work.
Chris Newman is Net Zero Carbon Design Team Manager